Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and two others have been admitted to bail by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja in the sum of N50m each and a surety.
Justice Jude Okeke also ordered that they should be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pending the fulfilment of the conditions attached to their bail.
The sureties according to the court, must possess titles to lands within the jurisdiction of the court and also show evidence of payment of tax for the past three years.
In addition, Justice Okeke who granted their bail application ruled that the sureties must also be residents within the jurisdiction of the court.
He further ordered them to deposit their international passports with the court pending the fulfillment of their bail conditions.
The court then adjourned further proceedings to March 18.
Lawal was arraigned before the court alongside three other defendants, Hamidu David Lawal, Sulaiman Abubakar, and Apeh John Monday, as well as two firms that were allegedly involved in the grass-cutting scandal, Rholavision Engineering Limited and Josmon Technologies Limited.
The defendant who pleaded not guilty to the charges were docked by the EFCC for alleged complicity in a N272 million contract fraud.
Specifically, Lawal was accused of illegally diverting a contract the Presidential Initiative for North East, PINE, awarded for the removal of grasses in Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camps, to his own company, pleaded not guilty to the 10-count criminal charge the EFCC preferred against him.
His bail application moved by his counsel was opposed by prosecution counsel, Mr. M. S. Abubakar.
The anti-graft agency had argued that Lawal and his alleged accomplices were unable to present sufficient materials that would enable the court to exercise its discretionary powers to release them on bail.
Prosecution counsel further opposed to the court allowing Lawal to go home on the basis of a mere oral bail application.
The former SGF had after his plea begged the court to grant him bail on self-recognizance, while undertaking to make himself available for his trial.