Court discharges and acquits former SGF, Babachir Lawal, over N544m grass cutting contract scandal

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An FCT High Court has discharged and acquitted a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, over the N544million contract fraud offences filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

At the hearing on Friday, the Court ruled that the anti-graft agency failed woefully to establish prima facie case against the former SGF.

While ruling on no case submission made by the former SGF, Justice Charles Agbaza held that EFCC stated that no ingredient of any offence was made out by the 11 witnesses that testified for the EFCC.

The Judge further ruled that the EFCC failed to establish that Lawal was either a member of the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE) that awarded the contract or a member of the Ministerial Tenders Board that vetted and approved the disputed contract.

Justice Agbaza added that the EFCC also failed to link the former SGF with the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) that issued a certificate of no objection to the contract before it was awarded.

Consequently, the Judge discharged and acquitted all the defendants in the 10-count criminal charges against them for want of evidence to link them with the purported offences.

The former SGF, alongside his younger brother, Hamidu Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday and two companies, Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited, were prosecuted by the EFCC before Justice Charles Agbaza on a 10-count charge bordering on fraud relating to the removal of evasive plant species to the tune of N544 million for which they pleaded not guilty.

The EFCC had on Monday, November 30, 2020, re-arraigned the former SGF before Justice Agbaza.

One of the charges read, “That you, Babachir David Lawal, while being the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and a director of Rholavision Engineering Ltd on or about August 22, 2016, did knowingly hold indirectly private interest in the contract awarded to Josmon Technological Ltd, but executed by Rholavision Engineering Ltd, for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N258,132,735.99 (Two Hundred and Fifty-eight Million, One hundred and Thirty-two Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty-five Naira, Ninety-nine kobo) only, by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) though the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE) and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

 

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