NEWS DIGEST – The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal and three others, who were charged with N544 million fraud were on Wednesday granted a N50 million bail each.
Justice Jude Okeke of an FCT High Court Maitama, who gave the ruling, said the prosecution could not provide any proof to make the court not to grant bail.
“The evidential burden is more on the prosecution to prove that the defendants are not entitled to enjoy section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federation Republic of Nigeria as amended.
“Section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 the prosecution cited said bail shall be granted except in some circumstances which the prosecution could not establish,’’ he held.
Okeke admitted them to bail in the sum of N50 million and a surety in like sum each.
He insisted that the surety must be resident in Abuja and must provide residential address to the court.
In addition to that, the judge ordered that the surety must own a landed property with the land documents submitted to the court.
Okeke also ordered the defendants to deposit their international passports and traveling documents to the Registrar of the court.
The former SGF was arraigned alongside Hamidu Lawal, a director in his company, Sulaiman Abubakar, staff in the company and Apeh Monday.
Also joined were two companies, Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) dragged them to court on a 10-count charge bordering on conspiracy and unlawful award of contract to companies Lawal has interest at the sum of N544 million.
Lawal was accused of benefiting illegally from the approval of N544,119,925.36 for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation.
The EFCC alleged that Babachir Lawal being the SGF and Hamidu Lawal, director of Rholavision Engineering Limited and Abubakar, staff about March 7, 2016 at Abuja conspired to commit the offences.
EFCC said 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 Babachir Lawal 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 but executed by Rholavision.
The offences are contrary to Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The case has been adjourned till March 18 for commencement of trail. (NAN)