Nigeria

Grass-cutting scandal: Babachir Lawal discharged, acquitted

Babachir Lawal, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, has been cleared of N544M in contract fraud charges brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), thanks to a ruling from the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Babachir Lawal, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, has been cleared of N544M in contract fraud charges brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), thanks to a ruling from the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The court ruled on Friday that the anti-corruption agency did an awful job establishing a prima facie case against the former SGF.

In a decision about Babachir Lawal’s “no case” argument, Justice Charles Agbaza said that the 11 witnesses for the EFCC did not show that Babachir Lawal committed any crime.

The judge ruled that EFCC did not prove that Babachir Lawal was either a member of the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE), which gave the contract or a member of the Ministerial Tenders Board, which reviewed and approved the disputed contract.

Also, Justice Agbaza said that the EFCC did not show a connection between Babachir Lawal and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), which gave a certificate of no objection to the contract before it was provided.

The judge dropped all ten counts of criminal charges against the defendants because there wasn’t enough evidence to link them to the alleged crimes.

The EFCC brought charges against Babachir Lawal, his younger brother Hamidu Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday, and two companies, Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited, in front of Justice Charles Agbaza.

They were charged with ten counts of fraud related to the removal of evasive plant species that cost N544 million. They said they were innocent.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) brought the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, back in front of Justice Agbaza on Monday, November 30, 2020.

One of the charges said, “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 August 22, 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 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 offense punishable under Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”