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N544m Grass-Cutting Scandal: I Was Set Up – Babachir Lawal

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The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, has claimed that he was set up by his adversaries in an alleged corruption scandal.

Naija News reports that Lawal was indicted in December 2016 by a senate ad hoc committee in a contract awarded for the clearing of “invasive plant species” in Yobe State, through the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE).

The initiative which was under his office at the time was unable to account for N2.5 billion allocated for poverty alleviation for IDPs. Lawan was accused by the senate ad hoc committee of using N544 million to cut grasses.

Subsequently, Lawal was arrested and arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged fraud.

In October 2017, Lawal was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari, and according to the presidency, the decision was in line with the recommendation of a probe panel.

In an interview with Channels Television on Thursday, the former SGF said he was framed by some people and those responsible have confessed.

Lawan revealed that he knows those behind his ordeal, adding that the scandal has boosted his profile and not affected his public image.

He said: “On the contrary, it has enlarged my profile. The thing is in court and I have pleaded not guilty and I believe I’m not guilty. A lot of Nigerians, everywhere I go, know it was a set-up. It was very clear.

“I know some people set me up. I won’t tell you. I know and they know that I know some of them have confessed.”

Lawal was evasive when asked if it is right for someone who is in government to influence a contract with a company in which he is a beneficiary.

The former SGF said he had resigned from the company which won the contract for the grass cutting before his appointment into public office.

Lawal added that he instructed his lawyers to disengage him from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and delist him as a signatory to all the accounts of the 16 companies he was a board member.

He said: “I was a member of the board for 16 companies at that time (2015). I was managing director for one. I wrote letters of resignation to those companies.

“I instructed my lawyers to disengage me from the Corporate Affairs Commission, documented, written and even the fee paid for.

“We had the board resolution sent to the banks delisting me as a signatory to all the accounts.

“All these are documented for everyone to see. In politics, nobody was interested in all these things.

“What happened, therefore, was that the company of which I was a managing director, unknown to me, got a contract as a consultant to supervise a project which was called grass cutting. It wasn’t grass cutting.”

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