PINE: EFCC Detains Former SGF Lawal

THE Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) on Wednesday detained former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.

This came barely twenty four hours after former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of nepotism and shielding corrupt allies. Besides, Obasanjo warned Buhari in an 13-page letter not to seek another term in 2019.

HEADLINE gathered that Lawal was detained for alleged fraud to the tune of N223 million after he honoured the commission’s invitation extended to him.

His travails began on December 14, 2016, when the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on humanitarian crisis in the North East’ indicted him of fraud, in a grass-cutting contract awarded to his company, for the clearing of “invasive plant species” in Yobe State, through the Presidential Initiative on North-East (PINE).

PINE, which was under Lawal’s purview, was, at the time, unable to account for the N2.5billion budget meant to alleviate the suffering of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by Boko Haram in the region.

Lawal’s crime, according to the ad-hoc committee, included his alleged spending of N570m to cut grass.

Rholavision Engineering Ltd, a company owned by him, was also said to have got suspicious payments of N200 million from the contract.

Rholavision’s bank statements and other documents showed how Josmon Technologies Ltd, a company that got the contract from PINE, to clear grass for N248, 939, 231, made cash deposits of N10 million into Lawal’s company’s account 20 times, from March 29.

Although the former SGF claimed he resigned from his company on August 15, 2015, and as a result was not a party to whatever business it contracted, it was confirmed at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) that Lawal was a director of Rholavision until September 16, 2016, when he wrote to the commission informing it of his intention to relinquish 1,500,000 ordinary shares.

After sacking him in October, Buhari said he expected anti-graft agencies to go after him, and this they did yesterday.