By Olalekan Awojodu
The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and six others were on Monday re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 10 count charge for an alleged fraudulent N544m grass-cutting contract.
It was the second re-arraignment of the defendants, after they were first arraigned before the late Justice Jude Okeke of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Maitama, Abuja on February 13, 2019.
Lawal, along with his younger brother, Hamidu Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday and two companies – Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies Ltd pleaded not guilty to the charges when read to them.
The EFCC was still calling its witnesses, when the trial judge, Okeke died on August 4, 2020.
Following the judge’s demise, the case was re-assigned to Justice Charles Agbaza of the Jabi Division of the FCT High Court, where the trial will have to start afresh.
The EFCC alleged, in the 10 counts, that the defendants fraudulently converted cumulative proceeds of grass-cutting contracts worth over N500m which Lawal, as then SGF, allegedly awarded to companies in which he had interests.