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Ex-SGF not involved in N544m grass-cutting scam, witness tells court

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Babachir Lawal

Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, was not involved in the award of the alleged N544 million grass-cutting contract awarded by the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE), a witness told an Abuja High Court yesterday.

The prosecution witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Hamza Buwai, told the court that the ex-SGF was neither a member of PINE nor a member of its Ministerial Tenders Board responsible for the award of contracts.

The witness, a deputy director in charge of Finance and Account of PINE, told the court that a consultancy job was, however, awarded to Rholavision Engineering, a company in which Lawal’s younger brother has interest.

Buwai testified for the prosecution in the alleged contract fraud case brought against Lawal and five others by the EFCC.

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During witness cross examination by counsel to the defendant, Akin Olujimi (SAN), Buwai told Justice Charles Agbassa that the consultancy job was awarded after all financial and technical conditions were satisfied.

He admitted that the actual contract for the clearing of invasive plant species along river channels in the North East was awarded to Josmon Technologies Limited, while the consultancy for the supervision of the contract execution went to Rholavision.

The ex-SGF is standing trial, alongside his younger brother – a director of Rholavision; an employee of the company, Suleiman Abubakar; Managing Director of Josmon, Apeh Monday; Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited.

They were re-arraigned before the court on November 30, 2020 following the August 4, 2020 passing of Justice Jude Okeke, the judge earlier presiding over the case. The matter before the court is a 10-count bordering on fraud to the tune of N544.1 million, to which the parties pleaded not guilty.

After the cross examination of PW2, Justice Agbassa adjourned the case till March 31, 2021 for continuation of trial.

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