A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court has dismissed and acquitted Babachir Lawal, a former secretary to the federal government, and five others of N544 million contract fraud charges.
On Friday, Justice Charles Agbaza dismissed and acquitted them of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s 10-count criminal accusations (EFCC).
He held that the EFCC failed to establish a case against the defendants; consequently, he acquitted them of the charges.
on February 12, 2019, the EFCC arraigned the Ex SGF before Justice Jude Okeke on a 10-count charge bordering on fraud, diversion of funds, and criminal conspiracy to the tune of N1.1 billion.
Lawal was arraigned alongside his younger brother, Hamidu David Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh John Monday, and two companies, Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies Ltd.
- “That you, Hamidu David Lawal, being a Director of Rholavision Engineering Ltd, Suleiman Abubakar, being a staff of Rholavision Engineering Ltd, Apeh Monday John, being the Managing Director of Josmon Technologies Ltd and 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 abet the holding indirectly of a private interest by Engineer Babachir David Lawal in the award of contract to Josmon Technologies Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation through the Presidential Initiative for North West, PINE 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, Two Kobo only) which Rholavision Engineering Ltd executed and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 26 (1)(c) of the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Act 2000 and punishable under section 12 of the same Act.”
Upon arraignment, They all pleaded “not guilty” to the charges against them.
Following the demise of Justice Okeke, the trial had to start afresh, and on November 30, 2020, they were re-arraigned before Justice Agbaza.
They were re-arraigned on an amended 10-count charge, bordering on diversion of funds, criminal conspiracy, and official corruption to the tune of N544 million.
The EFCC had presented 11 witnesses to testify against the defendants before the court.
Delivering judgment, the judge held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants.
Ruling on the no-case submission by the ex-SGF, the court held that no ingredients of any offense were made out by witnesses the EFCC presented.