EFCC re-arraigns ex-SGF Babachir over N500m grass cutting fraud – Newstrends
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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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Pro-Wike lawmakers suspend Fubara’s expenditure

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Governor Siminalayi Fubara

Pro-Wike lawmakers suspend Fubara’s expenditure

The factional Rivers State House of Assembly led by Martin Amaewhule has suspended all expenditures of Rivers Governor Siminalayi Fubara.

According to the lawmakers, the suspension subsists until Fubara represents the 2024 budget before the assembly.

Recall that the Amaewhule-led lawmakers had given a seven-day ultimatum for Fubara to re-present the budget. That ultimatum expired on Monday.

Reacting to the ultimatum, the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had described the Amaewhule-led group as “former lawmakers” bent on causing a crisis in the state, calling on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun to prevent a breakdown of law and order.

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Moving a motion on Monday, factional Majority Leader, Major Jack brought the ultimatum to the House’s attention.

The lawmakers resolved to suspend the Rivers State Consolidated Revenue Account.

However, Fubara has refused to recognise the Amaewhule-led assembly, insisting on working with the three-member Assembly led by Hon. Victor Oko-Jumbo.

This is in spite of a Court of Appeal judgement invalidating a lower court ruling that barred the lawmakers from parading themselves as members of the Rivers assembly.

Pro-Wike lawmakers suspend Fubara’s expenditure

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BREAKING: Court okays Sanusi as Emir of Kano, permanently stops Bayero

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Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi and the deposed Emir Ado Bayero

BREAKING: Court okays Sanusi as Emir of Kano, permanently stops Bayero

A perpetual restraining order has been slammed on the dethroned Aminu Ado Bayero to stop parading himself as the Emir of Kano.

The restraining order was issued by Kano State High Court 17, presided over by Justice Amina Adamu Aliyu.

Four other dethroned Emirs, of Bichi, Rano, Gaya, and Karaye are also affected by the injunction as the court also restrained them from parading themselves as Emirs.

Delivering the judgment, Monday, the Court further restrained the 15th Emir of Kano and four other Emirs, themselves, servants, privies and any other persons appointed by them from parading themselves as Emirs of Kano, Bichi, Gaya, Rano, Karaye.

The judgment was consequent upon a suit filed by the Kano State government on the protracted royal tussle in the the State.

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In the suit, the State had prayed the high court to stop the 15th Emir of Aminu Ado Bayero and four other Emirs of Karaye, Bichi, Rano and Gaya from parading themselves as Emirs.

The Government also gave the Deposed Emirs 48 hours within which to vacate their respective Palaces after being deposed.

However, the Presiding Judge, Justice Amina Adamu Aliyu, while delivering the judgement, said the issue of evicting the Deposed Emir, Aminu Ado Bayero from his Nassarawa palace is a Rent Tribunal matter and should not be before her court.

But in her judgement, the judge directed the Deposed Emir, Aminu Ado Bayero and four others to quickly hand over all the Emirate Traditional Royal Artifacts to the government and the substantive Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi ii.

Justice Amina Adamu Aliyu, also said the State Assembly Emirate Council Repealed Law 2024, was done according to the law as enshrined in section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

She then ruled that the State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf’s assent to the law is also done perfectly according to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

BREAKING: Court okays Sanusi as Emir of Kano, permanently stops Bayero

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Samoa agreement: FG files complaint against Daily Trust, Ombudsman writes newspaper

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Minister of information and national orientation, Muhammad Idris

Samoa agreement: FG files complaint against Daily Trust, Ombudsman writes newspaper

The federal government has dragged Daily Trust Newspapers before the National Media Complaints Commission (NMCC), otherwise known as the Ombudsman, over its story on the Samoa agreement.

A statement by NMCC on Sunday acknowledged receipt of the federal government’s complaint and added that investigation into the matter had commenced.

The statement was signed by Emeka Izeze and Feyi Smith, chairman and interim secretary of NMCC, respectively.

It said that the federal government’s complaint, dated July 8, was signed by Dr. Ngozi Onwudiwe, permanent secretary of the federal ministry of information and national orientation, on behalf of the minister, Mohammed Idris.

The government, according to the statement, alleged that on July 4, 2024, Daily Trust newspaper published an article “containing false and misleading information that severely threatens national security”.

The statement said that in the complaint, the government alleged that “on July 4, 2024, Daily Trust newspaper published on its front page, a news item titled ‘LGBT: Nigeria Signs $150 Billion Samoa Deal”.

“In the report, it said that the government had endorsed a European Union (EU) partnership agreement (referred to as the “Samoa Agreement”), with member states of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS).

It said that the agreement was signed “despite some conditional clauses that compel benefiting nations to support the agitations by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community for recognition”.

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The government, according to the statement, described the report by Daily Trust newspaper as “false and misleading”.

It quoted the government as saying that, as a result of the alleged false report, “individuals and government officials have been subjected to hate speech, threats, intimidation, and cyberbullying across social media”.

According to the statement, the government is, therefore, asking the NMCC to intervene in the matter and, among other things, carry out a thorough investigation of the alleged misleading publication;

It also urged the Ombudsman to direct the newspaper’s management to publicly retract and correct the alleged false information, with equal prominence as the original article.

It also urged the NMCC to direct the management of Daily Trust newspaper to issue an unequivocal apology for “allegedly recklessly disseminating false information and implement stricter editorial guidelines to prevent a repeat of such alleged unwholesome report by any newspaper in the future”.

The NMCC said it had sent a formal acknowledgement letter, dated July 10, and signed by its interim secretary, Feyi Smith, to the ministry, informing it that the complaint was receiving the attention of the commission.

It said that the outcome would be duly communicated to the government.

“The management of Daily Trust will be contacted shortly for its response.

“As an independent media regulatory body, it is our duty to promote media adherence to the highest standards of professionalism and ethical conduct.

“We are also expected to ensure that the media operate in a free and unfettered environment,” the commission said.

It said that in accordance with the mandate and its established procedures, it had commenced an investigation into the government’s allegations.

“We assure the public that our inquiry will be thorough and impartial.

“We look forward to receiving the full cooperation of all parties involved and pledge to continue to ensure transparency throughout this process,” it said.

NMCC is an independent, multi-stakeholder co-regulatory body.

It was established by the Nigerian Press Organisations (NPO), made up of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

It works in collaboration with the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON).

The NMCC is tasked with providing the public with an independent forum for resolving complaints about the press, resolving all complaints quickly, fairly and free of charge.

It is expected to do so, maintaining high standards of journalism practice, journalistic ethics and defending the freedom of the press and the rights of the people to know.

Samoa agreement: FG files complaint against Daily Trust, Ombudsman writes newspaper

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