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N75.5bn fraud: Ex-Works Minister, Lawal, begs court to quash charge

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The embattled former Minister of Works, Dr Hassan Lawal, yesterday, begged a Federal High Court in Abuja to quash two separate criminal charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Whereas the anti-graft agency, through an initial 29-count criminal charge it filed in court, maintained that the former minister connived with eight persons to launder over N75.5 billion through 16 corporate entities while in office, the commission further charged him and one Adesanya Adewole, on a separate nine-count criminal charge bothering on alleged N45 billion contract scam.

The trial judge in the matter, Justice Adamu Bello, granted him bail on June 14, after he had spent 35 days in the Kuje maximum prison in Abuja.

Other accused persons on trial include, the former Managing Director of one of the indicted companies, Digital Toll, Dr Adeogba Godwin Ademola; Mr Dave Enejoh, Okala Phillip Yakubu, Thahal Paul Engr. Abbey Ayodele , Mr Guy Pelleg.

They were accused of using 16 different companies to defraud the federal government of N75.5 billion through fictitious contract awards.

At the resumed hearing on the case yesterday, counsel to the ex-minister, Mr Ibrahim Ishaku, SAN, urged the court to consider their consolidated applications seeking to quash all the criminal charges for want of incriminating evidence.

The accused persons contended that the proof of evidences tendered by the EFCC, failed to establish either a prima-facie case or a convincing nexus between them and the alleged crime.

Their submission was refuted by the EFCC lawyer who said though he was not part of the said consensus, he would not object to the application for adjournment in view of the fact that consolidating all the applications would enhance speedy disposal of the matter.

Consequently, the matter was accordingly adjourned till October 5 for the court to hear all the preliminary applications.


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