By Adedapo Adesanya
A high court in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, has discharged and acquitted Mr Babachir Lawal, a former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), and five others of N544 million contract fraud allegation against them.
Justice Charles Agbaza discharged and acquitted them on Friday of the 10-count criminal charges proffered against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He held that the EFCC failed to establish a case against the defendants; consequently, he acquitted them of the charges.
Recall that on February 12, 2019, the EFCC arraigned the ex-SGF before Justice Jude Okeke on a 10-count charge bordering on fraud, diversion of funds, and criminal conspiracy to the tune of N1.1 billion.
Mr Lawal was arraigned alongside his younger brother, Hamidu David Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh John Monday, and two companies, Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies Ltd.
The court documents showed that the one of the counts read: “That you, Hamidu David Lawal, being a Director of Rholavision Engineering Ltd, Suleiman Abubakar, being a staff of Rholavision Engineering Ltd, Apeh Monday John, being the Managing Director of Josmon Technologies Ltd and Rholavision Engineering Ltd on or about the 4th of March, 2016 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did abet the holding indirectly of a private interest by Engineer Babachir David Lawal in the award of contract to Josmon Technologies Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation through the Presidential Initiative for North West PINE to the tune of N272,524,356.02 (Two Hundred and Seventy Two Million, Five Hundred and Twenty Four Thousand, Three Hundred and Fifty Six Naira, Two Kobo only) which Rholavision Engineering Ltd executed and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 26 (1)(c) of the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Act 2000 and punishable under section 12 of the same Act.”
Upon arraignment, they all pleaded “not guilty” to the charges against them.
Following the demise of Justice Okeke, the trial had to start afresh, and on November 30, 2020, they were re-arraigned before Justice Agbaza on an amended 10-count charge bordering on diversion of funds, criminal conspiracy, and official corruption to the tune of N544 million.
The EFCC had presented 11 witnesses to testify against the defendants before the court.
Delivering his judgment, the judge held that the EFCC failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants.
A prima facie case is a cause of action or defense that is sufficiently established by a party’s evidence to justify a verdict in his or her favor, provided such evidence is not rebutted by the other party.
Ruling on the no-case submission by the ex-SGF, the court held that no ingredients of any offence were made out by witnesses the EFCC presented.
GE Reduces Emissions With Mobile Gas Turbines
By Adedapo Adesanya
General Electric (GE) has announced that its mobile gas turbines, typically used for emergency use, cannot only meet the emissions requirements in line with World Bank Standards but even surpass them and meet the most stringent emissions standard requirements.
In the State of California, GE developed an innovative technical solution on four TM2500 aero-derivative gas turbines deployed at the Department of Water Resources (DWR) sites in Yuba City and Roseville. The solution reduced nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions by over 90 per cent, surpassing World Bank Emissions Standards. It marked the world’s first-of-a-kind solution on a GE mobile TM2500. The technology helped lower emissions while supporting the statewide energy grid during extreme climate-driven events, including drought or wildfires.
Speaking on the advancement, Mr Clive Nickolay, CEO of GE Gas Power’s Aeroderivative business line, said, “GE’s aero-derivative mobile technology, typically used for emergency power, represents a perfect complement to renewable energy and peaking power use cases worldwide.
“We’re excited about GE’s efforts to provide power plant operators with a technical solution that will allow them to quickly install peak power when needed while drastically reducing NOx and CO emissions levels to low single digits.”
The technical solution includes engineering studies for the integration and installation of a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology system—a proven and effective solution to limit post-combustion emissions.
The technology works by removing common emissions through a catalytic converter transforming the nitrogen oxides contained in the exhaust gas into water vapour and nitrogen. The new solution unlocks dramatic enhancements to emissions performance while ensuring the TM2500 can provide reliable, affordable, and lower-carbon electricity to the grid.
At Yuba and Roseville, GE worked with the engineering, procurement, and construction company Kiewit Power Constructors Co. to install the world’s first-of-this-kind solution on a GE mobile gas power turbine to solve DWR’s emissions challenge. The emissions control solution includes 11-meter-high modules and a 22-meter-high stack. Each of the four TM2500 can produce up to 34 megawatts (MW) of electricity for a total of 136 MW and is now equipped with a system to reduce pollutants to 2.5 parts per million, the legal limit set by the state of California.
Adding his input, Mr Nosizwe Dlengezele, Regional Sales Executive for GE Gas Power business in Sub-Saharan Africa, said, “Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the world’s fastest-growing populations, and natural gas offers a solution that’s more efficient and flexible to enable the integration of more renewables to the grid and ultimately reduce emissions.
“Our TM2500 aero-derivative gas turbines are installed in countries such as Nigeria, Angola, and Ghana, to provide much-needed power because of its enhanced mobility, easy installation and critical grid backup. It also has lower emissions than diesel generators when operating on gas, and the availability of an SCR solution will now enable our customers to further reduce NOx and CO emissions by 90 per cent.”
A key feature of the TM2500 units is its fast start ability providing full power in five minutes. This provides utilities and grid operators like California Independent System Operator (CAISO) or the Western Area Power Authority (WAPA) the ability to quickly support the grid in case of emergencies or loss of intermittent power.
The quick start capability was successfully put to use when the units were brought online to support a strained statewide energy grid during California’s extreme heat wave on Sept 6, 2022.
GE’s trailer-mounted TM2500 is derived from jet-engine technology powering the world’s airlines and is mounted on a wheeled trailer for ultimate mobility. With more than 20 years of experience and over 300 units installed around the world, GE’s TM2500 is a proven solution for providing a baseload bridge to permanent power installations or for generating backup/peak power in the wake of natural disasters, plant shutdowns, grid instability or in isolated locations.
GE powers plants that deliver flexible, efficient, and reliable power to millions of people around the world. With almost 70 years of presence in Sub-Saharan Africa, GE has been collaborating with energy stakeholders to deploy innovative technologies tailored to respond to the needs of the Sub-Saharan Africa region with reliable baseload and flexible power. GE delivers across the entire energy ecosystem from generation to transmission and distribution, and throughout the region, GE-built technologies are supported by GE local service and maintenance teams working together to help ensure access to reliable and sustainable energy.
Senate Threatens to Withhold 2023 Capital Budget of State House, Others
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Senate has threatened to withhold the 2023 capital budget of 100 federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) until they answer the queries raised against them by the Auditor General for the Federation.
Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, issued this threat on the floor of the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday while ruling on a point of order.
The threat followed a point of order raised by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Mr Matthew Urhoghide, who informed his colleagues that some agencies refused to appear before the team despite invitations sent to them.
Some of the MDAs include the State House, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministries of Interior, Transportation, Mines and Solid Mineral Development, Information, Communication, Petroleum, Defence, Police Affairs, and Sports.
Others are Works and Housing, Women Affairs, the State House, Presidential Fleet, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Independent National Electoral Commission, North East Development Commission, Nigerian Intelligence Agency, and the Nigerian Air Force, among others.
The queries covered in the auditor general’s report are from 2015-2018.
Speaking, Mr Lawan upheld Mr Urhoghide’s point of order and insisted that the public officers who utilised funds appropriated to their MDAs must give account.
He said, “Your point of order is sustained fully and completely, totally sustained; you are right on the dot to bring to the plenary your grievances.
“Secondly, I once served as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee for eight years. My only problem is when you write agencies, and they refuse to honour the invite, you’d many times be forced to bring them through a warrant of arrest.
“Reading this list at plenary gives the agencies the opportunity to know now if they were not aware before for those that may claim ignorance.”
The Senate then gave the agencies a one-week deadline to communicate with the committee and set a date to appear before them or have their capital budgets withheld.
“I am taking the opportunity here to advise that in the next one week, if the name of any agency is here, that agency should reach the Committee on Public Accounts of the Senate to sort out when the agency would appear before the committee.
“If there is no communication whatsoever and no cogent and verifiable reason are given, we will slash the agencies’ budget.”
EFCC Auctions 435 Cars in Lagos [Photos]
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
About 435 cars will be auctioned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Lagos between Wednesday, December 7 and Thursday, December 8, 2022.
A statement issued by the commission said this is in line with the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004, Public Procurement Act 2007, and the Proceeds of Crimes (Recovery and Management) Act 2022.
The vehicles are among those forfeited by corrupt persons, and the courts have given the agency the authority to seize them.
The cars, which pictures were conspicuously displayed with allocated lot numbers for public inspection, were allocated to auctioneers based on assessed values and an open ballot system.
The display was to provide an opportunity for interested bidders to view and indicate interest in any car of their choice.
In the statement released today, the EFCC said Nigerians would be able to acquire the cars through auction at 40 Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 15A Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; 14 Cameroon Road, Ikoyi Lagos and CVU Obalende, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The nine auctioneers who were allocated to the Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC to dispose of the 435 cars at the designated Centre on 14 Cameron Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, are Rihanna Auction Limited; Kamyus Consult Limited; Areogun Resources Limited; BIS N JEG; Integrated Services Nigeria Ltd; Mau & Sons Ltd; Langar Aghaji & Co; Fagobe Company Ltd and Musa Kira and Co.
At the inspection of the items for sale on Tuesday in Lagos, the Secretary to the Commission and Chairman of EFCC Asset Disposal Committee (ADC), Mr George Ekpungu, said, “the exercise, which is the first of the planned auction of forfeited properties across EFCC Zonal Commands and EFCC headquarters, is being carried out in accordance with the (Establishment) Act, 2004, Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Proceeds of Crimes (Recovery and Management) Act, 2022.
“It is being conducted in conjunction with the Bureau of Public Procurement to ensure compliance with all extant laws.”
While welcoming the auctioneers to the centre, he expressed his gratitude to sister agencies, including the Nigerian Army, who were invited to provide adequate security and ensure orderliness.
Mr Ekpungu also appealed to the members of the public present at the auction to listen carefully to the auctioneers and comply with all stipulated guidelines.
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