‘N544m fraud’: Babachir Lawal asks court to reject EFCC documents

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Babachir Lawal, a former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), has asked a federal capital territory (FCT) high court to reject documents sought to be tendered as evidence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in his alleged fraud trial.

Lawal is facing criminal prosecution alongside Hamidu David Lawal, his younger brother; Sulaiman Abubakar; Apeh John Monday; Rholavision Engineering Ltd, and Josmon Technologies Ltd.

They were re-arraigned on a 10-count charge bordering on diversion of funds, criminal conspiracy, and official corruption to the tune of N544 million.

At the court session on Wednesday, the EFCC, through its third witness, Fatima Umar, sought to tender some documents as evidence against the defendant.

Umar, who is a deputy head of the digital forensic laboratory with the EFCC, said she had received a request letter to examine an iPhone 7.

She said the investigator in charge of the case, Ibrahim Salihu, gave her keywords like SGF, Abia, Abdullahi and some other words to search on the phone.

“In the process of my search, I came across a contact saved as SGF,” she said.

Umar said the data extracted from the phone were messages between Musa Bulani, the owner of the phone, and the contact saved as SGF.

She told the court that the extracted data were analysed, burnt into a compact disk (CD), printed into a hard copy, and a report was written.

Offen Uket, prosecution counsel, then asked the court to admit the request letter, CD, printout (hard copy) and the EFCC’s forensic report in evidence.

While Akin Olujimi, Babachir’s counsel, did not oppose the admissibility of the request letter dated March 8, 2018, he urged the court to reject the remaining three documents.

He argued that the printed hardcopy obtained from the compact disc is not the original source, but the iPhone which was not tendered before the court.

He, therefore, submitted that the documents sought to be tendered were secondary evidence, adding that such an action is not permissible by law as it is not a certified true copy ( CTC).

All other counsel in the matter aligned themselves with the submissions of the first defendant lawyer.

Charles Agbaza, the judge, has fixed June 9 for ruling on the admissibility of the documents and cross-examination of the third prosecution witness.

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