A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal, and six others have been rearraigned at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Jabi, Abuja.
They are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 10 counts bordering on an alleged fraudulent N544 million grass-cutting contract.
In the counts, the EFCC claimed, among others, that the defendants fraudulently converted cumulative proceeds of grass-cutting contracts worth over N500 million which the former SGF allegedly awarded to the companies in which he had interests.
The defendants were initially arraigned before Justice Jude Okeke on February 13, 2019 – about one and half years after President Muhammadu Buhari sacked Lawal as the SGF.
Other defendants included the younger brother of the former SGF, Hamidu Lawal, as well as Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh Monday, and two companies – Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies Ltd.
But Okeke’s death on August 4, 2020, forced a fresh trial.
On Monday, Lawal and others appeared before Justice Charles Agbaza for a fresh trial.
With the defendants’ plea of not guilty to the charges, the defence lawyers pleaded with the judge to allow their clients to continue to enjoy the bail already granted them by the former judge.
In his ruling, Justice Agbaza adjourned the case until January 20 to 22, 2021, for the trial of the defendants.