N5bn PINE contracts: Ex-SGF Lawal faces more hurdles as EFCC grants him bail

Despite securing bail reprieve last night, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. Lawal is facing fresh hurdles over all contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).

He is expected to account for contracts worth over N5billion which were awarded by PINE under his control as the final approving authority.

It was also learnt that the EFCC has also quizzed the younger brother to the ex-SGF, Mr. Hamidu Lawal, who took over the running of Rholavision Engineering Limited after following the appointment of Babachir.

More than 30 companies are also under probe in connection with alleged massive fraud in PINE including a N200million contract awarded to Rholavision for the clearing of ‘invasive plant species’ (weeds) in Yobe State
A top source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “In the last 48 hours, the ex-SGF has made many statements on some of the over N5billion contracts awarded by PINE. He was not detained because of the N200million ‘invasive plant species’ contract alone.

“Preliminary investigation showed that the ex-SGF was the final approving authority for all the contracts awarded by PINE. He had say in virtually all the contracts and those given the jobs.

“What happened was that initially PINE was placed under the Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA) headed by the National Security Adviser, Gen. Babagana Monguno(rtd). But the NSA said such a responsibility has nothing to do with his office.

“The government now moved PINE to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) because it has more than seven permanent secretaries that could make the coordination of the North-East Initiative smoother.

“Findings however revealed that the ex-SGF assumed the role of the approving leading to some questionable contracts, diversion and under-delivery of services.
“Since the former SGF was central to all the over N5billion contracts awarded, he has to account for how he came about his decisions. So, he was questioned about the N200m contract for the clearing of ‘invasive plant species’ (weeds) in Yobe State and others.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “Some of the contracts being looked into had to do with rebuilding and renovation of schools in Adamawa, Yobe, Bauchi and Borno states. Others border on the supply of food and relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons in Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa and Taraba sates.

“We have interrogated Mr. Hamidu Lawal, who is a younger brother to the ex-SGF, and we are probing more than 30 companies in respect of some of the contracts “purportedly executed” by PINE. There are more than 40 individuals implicated in the PINE scandal.

“Most of the contracts that landed most of these people and companies in trouble were awarded in March 2016. But we started our investigation towards the end of 2016.

“But the probe of the scandal by a Presidential Committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made us to stay action for a while. And the report of the committee is useful to our investigation.”

As at press time, the ex-SGF was perfecting his bail conditions at the EFCC headquarters.

Another source added: “The former SGF has been granted bail, we have approved his release. He is expected to come intermittently for interrogation from next week. His movement is also restricted to the country pending the conclusion of investigation.”

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