The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama, Abuja, over his alleged involvement in grass-cutting contract fraud amounting to N554 million.
Lawal, who was SGF under President Muhammadu Buhari between August 27, 2015 and October 30, 2017, was re-arraigned on an amended 10-count charge with six others.
The other six are: the ex-SGF’s younger brother, Hamidu Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday and two firms – Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited.
They all pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them before a new judge, Justice Charles Agbaza, who is taking over the case, following the demise of the earlier trial judge, Justice Jude Okeke, on August 4, 2020.
Justice Agbaza allowed the defendants to continue to enjoy the conditional bail earlier granted them by the former trial judge, and adjourned till January 20, 2021 for trial.
The late Justice Okeke had, on February 13, 2019, granted the defendants bail at N50 million each, with one surety in like sum.
The court seized the international passports of the accused, even as it barred them from travelling out of the country without permission.
The ex-SGF was, among other things, alleged to have connived with the other defendants and illegally diverted a contract the Presidential Initiative for Northeast (PINE) awarded for the removal of grasses in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps to his own company.