An operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Chike Nwibe, on Wednesday told the Federal High Court in Abuja that former Minister of Works, Hassan Lawal, misappropriated N6.4 billion on the Brutu and Bagana bridge contracts.
The EFCC had on May 11, 2011 arraigned r. Lawal, alongside 14 others, for alleged fraudulent award of contracts, money laundering and embezzlement of funds meant for projects in Kogi and Nasarawa State.
Mr. Lawal is standing trial on charges of N24.3 billion contract scam levelled against him.
Charged with Mr. Lawal are Adeogba Ademola, Digital Toll Company Ltd; Swede Control Interlink Ltd; Proman Vital Ventures Ltd; Nairda Ltd; Siraj Nigeria Ltd; and Wise Health Services Ltd.
Others are Dave Enejoh, Okala Yakubu, Thahal Paul, George Elzogbi, Abbey Ayodele and GIS Transport Ltd.
Mr. Nwibe, during cross examination, said an investigation carried out by the EFCC showed that N6.4 billion was the actual figure received by the contractors out of the N24.3 billion contract sum.
He alleged that out of the figure, Lawal authorised the payment of N3 billion in 2009.
“I do not think it is correct to say that payment of over N4.5 billion was made before 2009 when Lawal became a minister,” he said.
“We went on-the-spot assessment of the contract site and discovered that the extent of work was not commensurate with the amounted paid.
“The work done was about 30 per cent of the sum collected. The assessment was based on our projection and according to experts.”
Mr. Nwibe said that the team neither carried out the assessment with a Director of Legal Services nor a civil engineer from the Federal Ministry of Works.
“We did not also go with a quantity surveyor or a valuer. I only led the team of mobile police and EFCC operatives and assessment is based on common sense,’’ he said.
When asked if he knew the link between Mr. Lawal and the second, third and eighth accused persons, the witness said “the first accused person used the second, third and the eighth accused to siphoned the contract sum’’.
According to M. Nwibe, the contract was conceived in 2007 while the contract agreement was signed the same year.
He further said that the contract was predicated on Public Private Partnership where the private partners were to contribute 60 per cent of the contract sum, a total of about N14.6 billion.
He explained that the Federal Government was obliged to contribute 20 per cent, about N4.7 billion.
According to him, the remaining 20 per cent was to be paid by Kogi and Nasarawa State with each contributing N2.3 billion.
Mr. Nwibe explained that the N6.4 billion misappropriated was the contributions made by the Federal Government and the two States, adding that the private partners were yet to make any contributions.
Justice Adamu Bello adjourned the matter to May 27 and May 28 for continuation of trial.