A professor of law, Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN), has said it is impossible for the federal government to charge Femi Otedola, oil magnate, with bribery in the case involving Hon Farouk Lawan, who was handed a 7-year jail sentence on Tuesday.
Lawan, the former chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee which probed fuel subsidy, was convicted of soliciting a bribe from Otedola to delist his company, Zenon Oil and Gas Limited, from the firms under probe.
Lawan is currently cooling off in Kuje Prison in the nation’s capital, Abuja.
There have been arguments on why Lawan was convicted while Otedola, who offered the bribe, is walking as a free man.
But Akinseye-George said he (Otedola) does not have a “guilty intent”.
“The giver does not have what in law we call ‘guilty intent’. He knew he was not supposed to give a bribe and then informed the law enforcement agency to make them part of the process; so, he doesn’t have the guilty intent and without this intent, the law does not punish,” he said.
He explained that for an offence of bribery to be committed, there must be two elements which are the mental and physical elements.
“The mental element of the offence is the state of the mind of the giver at the time he gave. In this case, you don’t have the corrupt mental element.
“All you have is the physical element, which was with the knowledge of law enforcement agents.
“That is why in this case, you cannot talk about punishing the giver because the state of mind of the giver was not to corrupt but to expose corruption,” he added.
Evidence before court
In his testimony before the court in June 2019 said the money he handed over to Lawan was given to him by the DSS.
He added that the alleged bribe money was given to Lawan in a sting operation.
He said that the DSS, however, did not catch Lawan red-handed at the time of collecting the money from him (Otedola), as shown in a video played in the open court.
He also told the court that he did not have any documentary evidence to the fact that the money was given to him by the DSS, saying that the money was given to him in bits.
He further stated that he did not take down the serial numbers of the money given to him by the DSS, adding that he did not sign any document when collecting the money in bits.