BREAKING: N544m grass cutting contract scandal: Court discharges, acquits Ex-SGF, Babachir Lawal
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory FCT, has discharged and aqcuitted a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal from the N544M contract fraud offences brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The Court on Friday held that the anti-graft agency failed woefully to establish prima facie case against the Ex-SGF.
In a ruling on no case submission made by Babachir Lawal, Justice Charles Agbaza held that EFCC said that no ingredients of any offence was made out by the 11 witnesses that testified for the EFCC.
The Judge held that EFCC did not establish that Babachir 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 gave approval to the disputed contract.
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Besides, Justice Agbaza held that EFCC also failed to link Babachir Lawal with Bureau of Public Procurement BPP that issued a certificate of no objection to the contract before it was awarded.
In, the Judge discharged and aqcuitted all the defendants in the 10-count criminal charges against them for want of evidence to link them with the purported offences.
Babachir Lawal 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.
They faced 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 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC had on Monday, November 30, 2020 re-arraigned the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal before Justice Agbaza.
One of the charges read, “That you, Engineer Babachir David Lawal, while being the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and a director of Rholavision Engineering Ltd on or about the 22nd August 2016 at Abuja, in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory 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.”