Journalism of Courage

Alleged N544m contract fraud: Ex-SGF Babachir Lawal, five others discharged, acquitted

According to the judge, the EFCC did not establish that Lawal was either a member of the Presidential Initiative for the North-East that awarded the contract or a member of the Ministerial Tenders Board that vetted and gave approval for the disputed contract.

At last, justice appeared to have been served as former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, and five others was on Friday discharged and acquitted of N544 million contract fraud.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja cleared Lawal and five others of the contract fraud charge slammed on them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a judgment delivered on Friday, Justice Charles Agbaza held that the anti-graft agency failed to establish a prima facie case against the Ex-SGF and the co-defendants.

Persecondnews recalls that Babachir Lawal, alongside his younger brother, Hamidu Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday and two companies, Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies Ltd, were prosecuted by the EFCC before Justice Agbaza.

They were tried on 10-count charge bordering on fraud relating to the removal of evasive plant species to the tune of N544 million.

They all pleaded innocence of the offences.

The EFCC had on November 30, 2020 re-arraigned Lawal before Justice Agbaza.

Ruling in no-case submission made by Lawal and others, Agbaza held that no ingredient of any offence was made out by the 11 witnesses who testified for the EFCC.

According to the judge, the EFCC did not establish that Lawal was either a member of the Presidential Initiative for the North-East that awarded the contract or a member of the Ministerial Tenders Board that vetted and gave approval for the disputed contract.

Agbaza also said the EFCC failed to link Lawal with the Bureau of Public Procurement that issued a certificate of no-objection to the contract before it was awarded.

He, therefore, discharged and acquitted all the defendants in the 10 criminal charges against them for want of evidence to link them with the purported offences.

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