N43.4m contract scam: Ex-minister knows fate February 25

Hassan Lawal [Photo: newsdiaryonline.com]

Mr. Lawal is accused of embezzling money meant for a bridge contract.

The Federal High Court on Thursday in Abuja reserved February 25, 2013 to rule on a no-case submission, filed by a former Minister of Works and Housing, Hassan Lawal, on a N43.4 million fraud.

Justice Adamu Bello gave the date after counsel to the parties had argued the motion filed by Ibrahim Ishiaku, counsel to Mr. Lawal.

The former minister is standing trial on allegation of misappropriation of funds meant for the rehabilitation of the Guto-Bagana Bridge across River Benue.

Adesanya Adewale, an ex-staff of a bank, who allegedly assisted Mr. Lawal to launder the money, is also standing trial.

Mr. Ishiaku insisted that the deposits were genuine transactions made by his client as payment for a housing loan procured from the bank.

He, therefore, urged the court to rule that Lawal had no case to answer, saying that the charge did not link him directly or indirectly to the allegation.

“My lord, this is a mere allegation which to me was brought about by the new political leaning of my client. In fact, Lawal did not launder any money or misappropriate monies made for the contract he supervised,” he said.

Wahab Shittu, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), told the court that the accused used Adewale, an ex-staff of a bank to launder the money.

He explained that the action contravened the Money Laundering Act 2004.

Mr. Shttu said the anti-graft body had charged the ex-minister and Mr. Adewale for illegally moving monies that were not traceable to any source. He said all the prosecution witnesses earlier testified that the deposits were made in three transactions of three million naira, four million naira and N8.9 million at different times.

The counsel further submitted that one of the witnesses had shown to the court how the ex-minister conspired with Mr. Adewale to effect other transactions of N15 million and N12.5 million.

He argued that the transactions were made to be concealed from the public, adding that the motion should be dismissed.

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