The immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, has been arraigned before an FCT High Court in Maitama by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Lawal and five others have pleaded not guilty to a 10-count charge of fraudulent diversion of funds meant for the clearing of evasive plants in the North East.

Lawal was picked up on Monday by operatives of the anti-graft agency.

After the charges were read, he pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

President Muhammadu Buhari had in October 2017 sacked Lawal following a report by a panel headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that investigated allegations of fraud levelled against him.

The EFCC had filed a 10-count charge bordering on conspiracy and fraud against him and Hamidu David Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar and two companies, Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies Ltd.

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In the charge filed on January 30 by Offem Uket for the commission, Lawal was alleged to have conspired with Hamidu, a director in Rholavision and Abubakar, a staff in the same company, to fraudulently acquire a property and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 26(1)(c) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 12 of the same Act.

One of the charges accused Hamidu, Abubakar and Rholavision of “abetting the award of contract to Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of 6.4 million Naira by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) through the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE)".

Hamidu was said to have “abetted the holding indirectly of a private interest by Engineer Babachir Lawal in the award of a contract to Josmon Technologies Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation by OSGF through PINE to the tune of 272.5 million Naira.”

Lawal was also accused to have fraudulently acquired a private interest in a contract awarded to Josmon Technologies Ltd.