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N544m Grass-cutting Fraud: Court admits more exhibits against Babachir Lawal

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By Fortune Eromosele, Abuja

A high court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Jabi, on Thursday, admitted more exhibits in evidence against the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal.

Trial Justice Charles Agbaza admitted the exhibits which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, tendered through its second witness, Mr Hamza Buwai.

The former SGF is answering to a 10-count charge the EFCC entered against him and however pleaded not guilty. The Prosecution alleged that the charge is bordering on diversion of funds, criminal conspiracy and official corruption before Justice Charles Agbaza, on November 30, 2020, following the demise of Justice Jude Okeke, the previous trial judge.

It will be recalled that Lawal is standing trial alongside his younger brother, Hamidu David Lawal, who is a director of Rholavision Engineering Limited; an employee of the company, Suleiman Abubakar; Managing Director of Josmon Technologies Limited, Apeh John Monday; the two companies: Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited.

At the resumed proceedings in the case on Thursday, the PW-2, Mr Buwai told the court that the Documents received for approval from the Permanent Secretary Special Services in the Office of the SGF, Rholavision, was paid twice at 50 per cent each. The documents he listed include: award letter, acceptance letter, contract agreement, Bureau for Public Procurement certificate, Pencom certificate.

The witness noted that contracts awarded for Josmon, was given on the 22 August 2016 and contract awarded for Rholavision Engineering Limited was given on the 4 March 2016.

Offem Uket, prosecution counsel, urged the court to admit the documents in evidence, with no objection from the defence counsel, the judge admitted the documents as exhibits 1 to 7.

Buwai further informed that Rholavision Engineering Limited was not approved for consultancy job in the second phase of the grass cutting contract awarded to Josmon Technologies Limited.

According to him, the company was not paid for the second phase contract, having not been approved for consultancy service. The witness further told the court that consultancy contract was awarded to Rholavision in the first phase of the contract on January 14, 2016, adding that the company was paid 2.5 per cent of the total contract sum.

The PW-2 informed that Rholavision’s total payment for each payment was N3,505,758.40 but was paid on each occasion the sum of N2,155,182.54 after deduction of five per cent each of value-added tax and withholding tax.

The witness informed that Josmon Technologies Limited was awarded the grass cutting contract in March 2016 for the first phase of the contract at N272.4 million. He added that the first phase was paid for twice at N203.357m and N20.687m respectively, after the deduction of VAT and withholding tax.

The matter was adjourned till February 17, 2021, for cross-examination.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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