Prominent lawyers, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), Mr Alasa Ismaila and Mr Wahab Shittu have argued that if the federal government does not want to sound compromised in the prosecution of offenders in the alleged $620, 000 bribery scam, all the persons involved in the giving and taking of the bribe money must be prosecuted together.
The lawyers, who stated this in separate interviews with LEADERSHIP yesterday, said that in any bribery matter, the state must identify both giver and taker of the bribe money since there cannot be a taker without a giver in any bribery saga.
Otedola had alleged that he bribed Farouk Lawan with $620,000 to ensure the removal of his firms’ names from the list of indicted oil firms by the suspended Farouk Lawan-led ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy regime. The secretary of the committee Boniface Emenalo was also alleged to have collected part of the bribe money for Lawan from Otedola in his Abuja home.
Sagay said, ‘’It is trite law that in a bribery crime, there must be giver and taker who must be prosecuted at the same time. But in a sting operation which must be carried out by the police, the taker has to be apprehended in the exercise to be able to establish prima facie case against the bribe taker.
“For bribery offence to occur, the bribe taker must act in consent with the bribery giver. It would be damn too strange and very unusual under our criminal procedural Act to arraign Farouk Lawan alone because under normal circumstance, where there is bribe taker, there must exist the bribe giver, and in this instance it is Otedola’’.
Malami said, “Bribery is a two-way traffic because two parties must be involved in the bribery crime. There cannot be bribe taker without the bribe giver. Therefore, it is only in a compromised circumstance the state or government would arraign bribe taker without the bribe giver.
“Even in a sting operation where the bribe giver is compelled by the state to give the bribe, the bribe giver would still be involved in the prosecution as witness. But then, the bribe giver must have reported to the police of a bribe taker demanding for bribe from him. The police would then arrange for the sting operation leading to the arrest of the bribe taker within the scene operation.
“It is irreconcilable in law that after giving the bribe, then goes ahead to confess to police that he gave so, so and so sum of money as bribe. He cannot be exonerated under the law. He is a bribe giver and must be prosecuted as well’’.
Ismaila said “Farouk Lawan, Otedola and the secretary of the House of Representatives fuel subsidy sub-committee all have cases to answer. No bribery crime can occur without the involvement of giver and the taker. The two always go together.
For Wahab, “In any bribery case, the giver and the taker are culpable. The police must take step as well to arraign Farouk, Otedola and Emenelo’’.
It is apparent that the ongoing police investigation into the allegation of bribe taking leveled against former chairman of House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on the fuel subsidy regime, Hon. Farouk Lawan, may have suffered a major hitch as there may be no plans for the lawmaker’s arraignment.
A source close to the police disclosed to LEADERSHIP that the police inability to trace the bribe money may hamper any attempt to put the lawmaker in the dock.
The source also said that the fact that the police was not involved in the alleged sting operation where Lawan collected the bribe money while being videoed was another setback in their effort to gather enough evidence to nail Lawan.
According to the source, these factors gave indication that the police may be unable to get enough evidence to establish a prima facie case against the lawmaker.