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N544m alleged contract scam: Why ex-SGF, Babachir Lawal was not reported to EFCC – Witness

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A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Chidi Eboigbe on Wednesday in Abuja told an FCT high court that former Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Babachir Lawal was not reported to law enforcement agents because there was nowhere in the statement of account of Rholavision Limited that showed the ex SGF carried out any transaction for the company.

Rholavision Engineering Company was said to have been engaged to clear evasive plant species on Yobe Rivers by the Presidential Initiative for the North East PINE which led to the filing of criminal charges against Babachir Lawal and others by EFCC.

The witness who is a Compliance Officer at a bank told the court that Babachir Lawal from the record of the bank ceased to be a Director and signatory to the company account on October 28, 2015.

He informed the court that documents received by his bank indicated that the former SGF was removed as a director and signatory to the company’s account shortly after he was appointed SGF.

Answering a question from Chief Akin Olujimi SAN, counsel to Babachir Lawal, the EFCC witness admitted that the sum of N269.864m was in the account of Rholavision between January 1, 2007, and May 4, 2012, adding that at the material time, the company was doing well.

The witness further told the court that the bank has a duty and obligation to report any suspicious transactions to law enforcement agents but that in the transactions of Rholavision with his bank, there was nothing like criminal activities, hence the bank did not report anything of such to the authorities.

He said there was nowhere in the statement of account of Rholavision with the bank that showed that the former SGF carried out any transaction for the company.

Rholavision Engineering Limited is one of the five other defendants alongside Lawal, standing trial in the ongoing N544 million alleged contract infractions.

Under further cross-examination by Mr Marcel Oru SAN, counsel to Rholavision company, the witness told Justice Charles Agbaza that he became aware of Babachir Lawal’s appointment as SGF in 2015.

He said several payments were made into Rholavision’s account with the bank by individuals and corporate bodies but that he did not know the purpose of the payments.

Answering another question, the bank staff admitted that he never managed the accounts of the engineering firm but was only familiar with it as a compliance officer.

“I am aware that several payments were made into the company’s account and these include N15.3 million deposit made on December 30, 2009 and another N10.6 million deposited into the account on January 4, 2010.

“However, I do not know the purpose of the payments.”

“In March 2016, other limited companies also made payments into account of Rholavision Engineering Limited, which is the fifth defendant.”

Meanwhile, the judge has adjourned further hearing in the case to January 13, 2022.

Babachir Lawal alongside his younger brother, Hamidu Lawal; Suleiman Abubakar; Apeh Monday and two companies, Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited are being prosecuted by the EFCC before Justice Charles Agbaza, sitting at Jabi, Abuja.

They are facing a 10-count charge bordering on fraud relating to the removal of evasive plant species to the tune of N544 million for which they pleaded not guilty.

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