SHOCK AS EFCC WITNESS ABSOLVES FORMER SGF BABACHIR LAWAL OF COMPLICITY IN 544 MIL GRASS-CUTTING SCANDAL FRAUD TRIAL

A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Julius Babalola, on Thursday acted a drama at a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja with a revelation that a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, knew nothing about the N544m contract scam for which criminal charges were filed against him.

Babalola told Justice Charles Agbaza that the Ministerial Tenders Board for the Presidential Initiative for North-East was solely responsible for the award of the contract.

Testifying for EFCC, the witness told the court that Lawal was not a member of the Tenders Board and did not participate in any stage of award for the jobs.

Contrary to the allegations of EFCC that two contracts were awarded under emergency procurement procedure, the witness said that 18 contracts were actually awarded.

Babalola, who is the Head (Procurement Department) in the Office of the SGF, insisted that due process was followed by the Tenders Board members for the selection of the contractors.

The witness narrated that former SGF never participated in the activities of PINE and the Ministerial Tenders Board under the OSGF.

Cross-examined by counsel for Babachir Lawal, Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), the witness admitted that he authored all the memos that led to the award of the contracts.

He said the contracts were awarded by the Ministerial Tenders Board with due respect to the Emergency Procurement Act 2007.

Babalola 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 and dilligent civil servant.

He said, “To the best of my knowledge, I carried out all my duties pertaining to these contracts under the emergency procurement Act 2007, properly.”

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.

After the witness was discharged from the witness box, Justice Charles Agbaza adjourned the matter till November 3 and 10, 2021 for continuation of trial.

Copyright PUNCH.

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