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FG Withdraws N6.5bn Fraud Case against Ex-Works Minister, Others

FG Withdraws N6.5bn Fraud Case against Ex-Works Minister, Others

The federal government has discontinued the trial of a former Minister of Works, Hassan Lawal, charged with nine others over an alleged N6.5billion fraud in the execution of a contract awarded in 2007 for the construction of a bridge on River Benue to link Kogi to Nasarawa States.

The ex-minister had been standing trial on a 46-count charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/38/2011 with Adeogba Ademola, Dave Enejoh, Okala Yakubu, Thahal Paul and five companies Digital Toll Company Limited, Swede Control Intertek Ltd, Proman Vital Ventures Ltd, Wise Wealth Services Ltd and Abbey Building Society.
Lawal had pleaded not guilty and denied any wrong doing and said he was being persecuted for refusing to join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The trial had progressed for over three years, during which the prosecutor,  Wahab Shittu, engaged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), tendered over 300 exhibits, called many witnesses. He also amended the charge three times.

The 10 persons were accused of mismanaging the about N6.5billion contributed by the federal government for the project meant to link Guto and Bagana towns.
Yesterday, with the exception of Lawal, the other accused persons were in court when the case was called. Prosecution lawyer, who was expected to proceed with the case, stunned all when he announced his intention to withdraw. He said the state had instructed him to discontinue the case. He tendered a written directive to that effect.

Sources checks revealed that it is fast becoming a practice for prosecution of alleged corruption cases to be discontinued.

Shittu was silent on the reason behind the decision to discontinue the case.
The federal government in this year alone has discontinued several criminal cases against prominent individuals, particularly politicians.

The most recent of such discontinued cases was that against Mohammed, the son of the late Head of State General Sani Abacha.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed, after listening to Shittu moved his application to withdraw, and the defence lawyers having agreed, struck out the charge and discharged the accused person.

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