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EFCC re-arraigns ex-SGF Babachir over N500m grass cutting fraud

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A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and six others have been re-arraigned at the Federal High Court in Abuja over an alleged fraudulent grass-cutting contract worth over N500m.

Other defendants are Hamidu Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday and two companies; Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies Ltd.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges when they first appeared before the late Justice Jude Okeke of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama on February 13, 2019.

The case was to be opened on March 18, 2019, but the prosecutor announced that changes had been made to the 10-count charge, thereby stalling the trial.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had accused them of fraud, criminal conspiracy and diversion of N500 million.

The EFCC was still calling its witnesses when it was announced that the judge died on August 4, 2020, from a brief illness at the National Hospital in Abuja.

The case was then transferred to Justice Charles Agbaza of the Jabi Division of the FCT High Court, who fixed November 30 (Monday) for the re-arraignment.

The defendants again pleaded not guilty to the charges at their re-arraignment on Monday.

Justice Agbaza slated January 20, 2021, to restart the trial.

The EFCC alleged that Babachir Lawal, when he was the SGF, awarded cumulative proceeds of grass cutting contracts worth over N500 million to companies he had interests in.

It stated in the charge marked CR/158/19 “that you Engineer Babachir David Lawal while being the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and a director of Rholavision Engineering Ltd, on or about the 7th of March, 2016 in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did knowingly hold indirectly a private interest in the consultancy contract awarded to Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N7, 009,515.96 (Seven Million, Nine Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifteen Naira and Ninety Six Kobo only) by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) through the Presidential Initiative for North-East (PINE) and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act, 2000.

“That you Engineer Babachir David Lawal while being the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and a director of Rholavision Engineering Ltd on or about the 4th of March, 2016 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did knowingly hold indirectly a private interest in the contract awarded to Josmon Technologies Ltd but executed by Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N272,524,356.02 (Two Hundred and Seventy Two Million, Five Hundred and Twenty Four Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifty Six Naira and Two Kobo only) by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) through the Presidential Initiative for North-East (PINE) and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

“That you Engineer Babachir David Lawal while being the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and a director of Rholavision Engineering Ltd on or about the 22nd August, 2016 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did knowingly hold indirectly a private interest in the contract awarded to Josmon Technologies Ltd but executed by Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N258,132,735.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Eight Million, One Hundred and Thirty Two Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty Five Naira only) by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) through the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE) and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000.”

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Flaunting wealth in public a serious security risk, DSS official warns

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An official of the Department of State Services (DSS) has warned that the public display of wealth constitutes a great security risk.

Paul Oduh, the deputy director, security enforcement, DSS Kwara command, gave the warning on Friday in Ilorin, capital of the state.

 

He said the deliberate exhibition of affluence and a flamboyant lifestyle attract kidnappers, bandits, and other criminals.

 

The comment comes in the wake of the extravagant display at the much talked about funeral of the mother of Obinna Iyiegbu, the nightlife promoter popularly known as Obi Cubana.

The DSS deputy director said given the security challenges in the country, Nigerians should avoid showing off in public.

 

“People must adopt moderate lifestyles, so as not to fall prey to these criminal elements,” Oduh said.

 

Oduh said a boastful attitude and maintaining a “habitual daily routine” can also make people prone to attacks.

“The country is ravaged by insecurity on daily basis. However, people should not despair, security should be concern of all people and they must be enlightened on it,” he said.

 

“Security can never be 100 percent everywhere in the world. People should be knowledgeable enough on those things they can do to protect themselves.

 

“Security denotes free from danger and protection of lives and property where individuals can pursue their lawful activities.

 

“There is need to accept that threats exist and people are targets of these threats. This is why people should put in place measures to safeguard themselves from such threats.”

 

 

 

 

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PHOTOS: Nigeria dazzles in Tokyo Olympic opening parade

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I don’t need your cheques, Buhari tells contractor

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday charged contractors who have enjoyed government patronage as well as other privileged citizens to use their resources to support less privileged members of society.

 

President Buhari gave the charge when he paid a visit to the Emir of Daura, Dr Umar Faruk Umar.

 

He said passing gifts and ‘cheques’ to people in authority or already comfortable to buy favour is not the right approach.

 

According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari challenged beneficiaries of government patronage to go to their respective communities and engage in corporate social responsibilities.

 

The President said: “I don’t want your cheque. Go and assist our communities” instead of trying to return kickbacks to public officers, including his office.

 

“We don’t want cheques from anyone or organisation as returns or influence of any kind. Let them remember their Corporate Social Responsibilities,” he said.

 

The President noted he would love to visit Daura more frequently but for the high cost of presidential movements and exposing security personnel to the weather, assuring his heart remains with the people.

“We are known for farming and I have my farm here. I could come every two weeks and no one can stop me.

“But the cost to the movement is high. I would rather that it be used to better our schools, clinics and hospitals,” said the President.

The President said the grace of God had kept Nigeria together as a country in spite of differences that led to a 30-month civil war

 

“We want to thank God always for keeping us together as a country. From January 15, 1966, the country was thrown into political crisis. We had a 30 months civil war that resulted in the loss of about a million lives.

 

“We still thank God for keeping us together. We remain grateful to all those who showed interest in our unity and progress. May God continue to bless them,” he added.

 

The President, who recalled fond memories of visiting the Palace as a military Head of State, expressed happiness that the warmth and hospitality of the traditional institution had been sustained over the years.

 

At the meeting, the Emir publicly announced conferment of the title of Talban Daura on Yusuf Buhari, son of President Buhari.

 

He said a date would be announced for the turbaning ceremony of the President’s son, which might likely be before his marriage.

 

The Emir also announced creation of a District in the community of the President, with headquarters in Dimurkol.

He said the turbaning of younger Buhari and creation of the District was to further extend and deepen the long relationship between the Palace and the family.

 

He said the decision was in agreement with the kingmakers in Daura Emirate Council.

 

During the visit, the Palace used the opportunity to clarify the difference between two titles, Talban Hausa, given to Alpha Conde, the President of Guinea and Talban Daura designated for Yusuf, the President’s son.

 

The Palace explained that Daura, as the linchpin of the Hausa society had conferred titles that have bearing on the Hausa Kingdom and those that are specific to the Emirate.

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