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Alleged N544m fraud: Babachir Lawal ex-SGF, 5 others arraigned, remanded in EFCC custody

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Abuja, Feb.12, 2019 (NAN ) Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation was on Tuesday arraigned in an FCT High Court Maitama on allegation of N544 million grass cutting fraud.
He was arraigned alongside Hamidu Lawal, a director of Rholaviosion Engineering Ltd., Babachir’s company, Sulaiman Abubakar, a staff of the same company and Apeh Monday, a staff in Josmon Technologies Ltd.Joined in the suit are the two companies, Rholaviosion Engineering Ltd. and Josmon technologies Ltd.
The judge, Justice Jude Okeke ordered that they be remanded in EFCC custody pending the outcome of the ruling on their bail applications on Feb. 13. Okeke gave the order after listening to the bail applications of all the counsel to the defendants.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) dragged them to court on a-10 count charge bordering on conspiracy and unlawful award of contract.Lawal was accused of benefiting illegally from the approval of N544,119,925.36 for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation.
The EFCC alleged that Babachir Lawal, the former SGF and Hamidu Lawal, Director of Rholavision Engneering Ltd. and Abubakar, a staff of the same company, on March 7, 2016, within the Abuja jurisdiction conspired to commit the offence.
EFCC said that the defendants fraudulently acquired a property, which was contrary to section 26 (1) (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
It also alleged that the first defendant, Lawal knowingly held 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 million and N6.4 million. EFCC claimed that it was done through the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE).It further alleged that on March 4, and Aug. 22, 2016, the defendant was also involved in contract for removing evasive grass worth N272.5 million and N258.1, respectively, which were awarded to Josmon technologies but executed by Rholavision.
EFCC said that these offences are contrary to Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000. All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the allegations levelled against them. Prosecuting counsel, Mr Mohammed Abubakar prayed the court to give him date to open his case.Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN) counsel to Babachir applied for his bail. Olujimi informed the court that Babachir had abided by the terms and conditions of the administrative bail granted to him by EFCC since April 13, 2018. Counsel to others defendants, Mr Sunday Ameh (SAN), Mr Napoleon Idenala, and Mr Ocholi Okutupa applied for their bail.
The prosecuting counsel, Abubakar however opposed the bail applications by the defendants’ counsel.

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