For nearly a decade, the trial of Farouk Lawan, a former House of Representatives chairman of the ad-hoc committee investigating the fraud around the oil subsidy, lingered at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Abuja.
Mr Lawan is standing trial on charges of demanding $3 million bribe from billionaire businessman, Femi Otedola, to remove his companies from the list of firms indicted in the probe conducted by the House of Representatives’ committee.
It was alleged that Mr Lawan received $500,000 out of the $3million he demanded from the businessman.
The trial judge, Angela Otaluka, had slated today, Tuesday, for judgment on the matter, after the court failed to deliver the verdict last week.
According to hearing notice in respect of the suit, the judgement was fixed for 10.a.m. on Tuesday.
Our correspondent, who arrived the FCT High Court at Apo at 9:15 a.m., observed that the defendant, Mr Lawan, was not in court.
When Ms Otaluka commenced the day’s proceedings at 9:30 a.m, she informed lawyers and litigants that the court was going to start with the hearing of civil cases, a development that is at odds with the usual practice of judges taking judgements and rulings first.
The judge inquired from court registrars as she took her seat why the defendant and counsel in the matter were not in court.
No tangible response was heard from the court officials.
Thereafter, a heavy downpour, forced the court into a stand down of cases.
With leaking roofs and a dark courtroom due to power outage, the judge asked her police orderly for a lighting device to illuminate her desk, while lawyers switched seats from the soaked pews.
At the time of filing this report, a court registrar, who pleaded anonymity, said Mr Lawan had arrived the court a few minutes before the rain began.
“Mr Lawan is in one of the offices close to the courtroom. He came in few minutes before it started raining this morning. And the judgement will be delivered today,” the court official assured.
Farouk Lawan seated in an office at the FCT High Court, Abuja, ahead of the judgment in his bribery trial on Tuesday.
As our correspondent nosed around the court premises for a clue as to where Mr Lawan was seated, he observed that associates of the embattled former lawmaker were going in and out of an office where he was holed up, adjacent the courtroom.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported that billionaire oil magnate, Femi Otedola, had narrated how he exposed Mr Lawan of collecting three-million-dollar bribe.
Mr Otedola had told the court how he was able to expose Mr Lawan.
Mr Lawan denied all the charges.
Meanwhile, the court has resumed its sitting after the rains subsided.
“We can hear ourselves now; nature has taken its court,” Ms Otaluka said as she resumed sitting.
More details later…