Alleged grass-cutting scandal: Babachir’s company was not paid consultancy fee | Dailytrust

Alleged grass-cutting scandal: Babachir’s company was not paid consultancy fee

Babachir Lawal.
Babachir Lawal.

A prosecution witness in the trial of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal and five others on Thursday alleged that the company the ex-SGF was alleged to have private interest in, was not paid for its consultancy work.

Lawal, along with his younger brother, Hamidu David Lawal; Suleiman Abubakar; Apeh John Monday and two companies: Rholavision Engineering Ltd., and Josmon Technologies Ltd, were re-arraigned on an amended 10-count charge bordering on fraud, diversion of funds and criminal conspiracy to the tune of over N500 Million.

Also Joined in the suit are two companies, Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The witness, Hamza Adamu, told the court that after the completion of the first phase of the clearing of grass, the second phase was awarded in September, 2016 to Josmon Technologies Limited, which executed the first phase.

According to him, like the first phase, Rholavision Engineering Limited was also appointed consultant to the project.

“The first project was in March, 2016 while the second phase was in September, 2016. After the first project, the communities requested for more projects.

“Another project was awarded in September, 2016, which is the second phase for additional 250km for clearing of grass, irrigation, motorised boats and irrigation gate for the sum of N258 million.

“Josmon Technologies Limited was given the second phase. As the case with the first project, Rholavision was also appointed as consultant for the second project,” the witness told the court.

He said that on completion of the project, a final valuation was issued by the consultant for the final payment to Josmon Technologies Limited.

The witness stated that as the contractor was paid, Rholavision was not paid the 2.5 per cent of the N258 million contract sum for the consultancy.

“Rholavision was not paid because there was no approval by the ministerial tender board of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Therefore, they were not paid,” he stated.

Adamu told the court that Josmon Technologies Limited was first paid N203 million after the deduction of five per cent each if withholding tax and value added tax (VAT), which was N11 million.

Meanwhile, for health reason, the presiding judge, Justice Jude Okeke, said the counsel for the defendants would cross- examine the witness at the next adjourned date.

He, therefore, adjourned until Sept. 18 and Sept. 24 for cross examination and continuation of hearing.

NAN reports that the EFCC accused Lawal of illegally benefiting from the approval of N544 million for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation.

The anti-graft agency alleged that 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.

It alleged that 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 the former SGF 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 August 22, 2016 contract for removing evasive grass worth N272.5 million and N258.1 million respectively were awarded to Josmon Technologies Limited but was executed by Rholavision.

The offences, according to EFCC, were contrary to Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them.