N554m Grass-Cutting Scandal: Court acquits ex-SGF, Babachir Lawal, others - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY

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Friday, November 18, 2022

N554m Grass-Cutting Scandal: Court acquits ex-SGF, Babachir Lawal, others





An Abuja High Court sitting at Maitama, on Friday, dismissed the 10-count corruption charge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, preferred against a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and six others.

The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Charles Agbaza, held that the anti-graft agency failed to establish a criminal case against the defendant.

It held that no ingredient of any offence was made out by the 11 witnesses the EFCC brought to testify against the erstwhile SGF and his co-defendants.

Besides, the trial judge held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima-facie case that was capable of moving the court to compel the defendants to enter their defence to the charge against them.

Consequently, it upheld a no-case-submission the defendants filed to query the competence of the charge, even as it discharged and aqcuitted them of all the allegations against them.

Lawal, who served as SGF under President Muhammadu Buhari, between August 27, 2015 and October 30, 2017, was arraigned alongside his younger brother, Hamidu, two others-  Suleiman Abubakar and Apeh  Monday- as well as two companies – Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies Ltd.

The defendants were  among other things, alleged to have connived and illegally diverted a contract the Presidential Initiative for North East, PINE, awarded for the removal of grasses in Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps, to his own company.

The Defendants were initially docked before the court on February 12, 2019, and subsequently re-arraigned on November 30, 2020, following the death of the previous judge that handled the matter, Justice Jude Okeke.

Late Justice Okeke had on February 13, 2019, granted the defendants bail to the tune of N50million  each, with one surety in like sum.

The court equally seized their international passports, even as it barred the defendants  from travelling out of the country without permission.

Some of the counts in the charge marked CR/158/19, which the court dismissed on Friday, 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 7th of March, 2016 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did knowingly hold indirectly a private interest in the consultancy contract awarded to Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N7, 009,515.96 (Seven Million, Nine Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifteen Naira and Ninety Six Kobo only) by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) through 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. 

"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 4th of March, 2016 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did knowingly hold indirectly a private interest in the contract awarded to Josmon Technologies Ltd but executed by Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N272,524,356.02 (Two Hundred and Seventy Two Million, Five Hundred and Twenty Four Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifty Six Naira and Two Kobo only) by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) through 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. 

"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 a private interest in the contract awarded to Josmon Technologies Ltd but executed by Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N258,132,735.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Eight Million, One Hundred and Thirty Two Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty Five Naira only) by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) through 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".


Source: Vanguard

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