The Federal Government has alleged that the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Lawal Gummi, of frustrating it to get justice against former member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Farouk Lawan.
Lawan was dragged to court by the government in February 2013 for alleged corruption after clip of him taking $620,000 bribe from Zenon Oil boss Femi Otedola to remove the company’s name from the list of oil companies found culpable in the subsidy scam during the reigns of Goodluck Jonathan came to light.
The 55-year-old was then the Chairman of the Committee of the House of Representatives investigating the scam.
But till date, the court is yet to decide the case, which has witnessed several adjournments and gone back and forth in the intervening period as it had been heard by four different judges.
First, it was Justice Mudashiru Oniyangi, later Justice Adebukola Banjoko, who voluntarily withdrew from the case after Lawan alleged him of bias. Then Justice Angela Otaluka, and the latest, Justice Yusuf Halilu.
Before Justice Otaluka, the case was nearing completion as prosecution had called four out of its five proposed witnesses and tendered documents but it came to an abrupt end and had to start all over again like the previous instances when the defendant levelled another allegation of bias against Otaluka.
However, the FG has told the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal that the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Gunmi had helped Lawan to prolong the case and prevent the conclusion over the years.
This claim was made by the government in a notice of appeal by its private lawyer, who is prosecuting Lawan, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN).
Awomolo argued that the transfer of the part-heard case, particularly at the brink of conclusion before Otaluka to Justice Halilu, was not only wrong but illegal, adding that it contravened the provision of Section 98(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
He said that Section 98(2) of the ACJA provides that the power of the Chief Judge to transfer a case “shall not be exercised” where the prosecution had called even one witness let alone four out of the five proposed witnesses.