By Fortune Eromosele, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Thursday, presented a fourth prosecution witness against the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, where the witness said the ex-SGF was not involved in the award of the alleged N544 million Grass-cutting fraud.
The trial continued before Justice Charles Agbaza of the FCT High Court Jabi, Abuja, with the testimony of Mr. Julius Sunday Babalola, the fourth prosecution witness, PW-4.
The witness, who served in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as the Head of the Procurement Department, narrated before the court how the former SGF never participated in the activities of the Presidential Initiative for the North East, (Pine) and the Ministerial Tenders Board under the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF).
The witness who was cross-examined by counsel to Babachir Lawal, Akin Olujimi SAN, admitted that he authored all the memos that led to the award of the contracts.
He said that the contracts were awarded by the Ministerial Tenders Board with due respect to the Emergency Procurement Act 2007. He also narrated before the court that the contracts were awarded without fear or favour to anybody, explaining that he did his job as a loyal civil servant.
“To the best of my knowledge, I carried out all my duties pertaining to these contracts under the emergency procurement Act 2007, properly,” he said.
Babalola further told the court that he does not know Hamidu Lawal (Second defendant), and the fifth and sixth defendants, Rholavision Engineering and Josmon Technologies. “I did not discuss, meet or plan with any of the defendants, because I do not know them and I have never seen them,” he stated.
He confirmed to the court that a total of 18 contracts where awarded for the removal of evasive weeds, but only two where charged to court (Rholavision Engineering and Josmon Technologies), leaving out 16 other companies that got the contracts.
However, cross-examinations by John Itodo, counsel for the second defendant, Napoleon Idenala, counsel for the third defendant, Ocholi Okutepa, counsel for the fourth and sixth defendant, Emmanuel Oru, counsel for the fifth defendant, saw the PW-4 admitting to the fact that neither of the defendants were a staff of PINE or the SGF or present at any of the Board meetings.
After the witness was discharged from the witness box, Justice Charles Agbaza adjourned the matter to 3, 6 November 2021 for continuation of hearing.
Newspot reports that the former SGF is answering to a 10-count charge the EFCC entered against him, which he 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.
Those standing trial along with him are his younger brother Hamidu Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday and two companies, Rholavision Engineering (fifth defendant) and Josmon Technologies (sixth defendant).
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