N544m fraud: Defence counsel’s ill health stalls ex-SGF’s trial
The trial of ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal and five others was stalled on Tuesday in an FCT High Court due to ill-health of the Defence Counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN.
Lawal, along with his younger brother, Hamidu, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday and two companies, Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies Ltd, were re-arraigned on an amended 10-count charge bordering on fraud, diversion of funds and criminal conspiracy to the tune of over N544 million.
EFCC accused Babachir of illegally benefiting from the approval of N544 million for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation.
The anti-graft agency alleged that Lawal being the SGF and Hamidu Lawal, director of Rholavision Engineering Limited and Abubakar on March 7, 2016 at Abuja conspired to commit the offence.
It alleged that the defendants fraudulently acquired a property, contrary to Section 26 (1) (c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related offences Act, 2000.
It also alleged that the former SGF knowingly held indirectly a private interest in the consultancy contract awarded to Rholavision Engineering Limited 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 contract for removing evasive grass worth N272.5 million and N258.1 million respectively were awarded to Josmon Technologies Limited but was executed by Rholavision.
The offences, according to EFCC, were contrary to Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
The six defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.(NAN )