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N75. 7 BILLION FRAUD: I WON'T JUMP BAIL -EX-MINISTER LAWAL

By NBF News
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The embattled former Minister of Works, Dr Hassan Muhammed Lawal, currently in prison custody, has prayed Justice Bilikisu Aliyu of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to release him on bail pending the hearing and determination of the criminal charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Lawal said he would be available to face trial.

He was on Wednesday arraigned alongside Dr Adeogba Godwin Ademola and six companies over alleged roles he played in the illegal diversion of about N75.7 billion from the coffers of the Federal Government through fake contracts.

His counsel, M. A. Magaji, had shortly after the arraignment attempted to move an oral application for his bail, but was turned down by the trial judge, who insisted on a formal bail application. Following that order, the ex-minister yesterday filed his bail application wherein he condemned the manner of his arrest and arraignment.

The ex-minister, who also premised his application on health grounds, told the court that he' suffers from kidney ailment and lately, developed a cardio-vascular disease of which he needs constant medication. He is being managed by medical doctors at General Hospital Lagos and the Somali General Hospital. It is also important to submit respectively that the health of the first accused has deteriorated since his detention by the EFCC'.

According to a 15-paragraph affidavit in support of his bail application dated May 12, the ex-minister, said that 'he had been highly traumatized by the unlawful nature of his arrest and detention.'That he has not been able to make any calls since the time of his arrest and has lost his goodwill and relationships and that he was arrested and detained while going about his business lawfully'. Meanwhile, the Congress for Progressive Change [CPC] has condemned his trial, describing it as witch-hunting and a political vendetta.

Speaking in Abuja on the prosecution, the National Publicity Secretary of CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said the accused person's current ordeal was not unconnected with the active role he played towards ensuring that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, lost the recently concluded gubernatorial election to the CPC in Nasarawa State.

Justice Aliyu said Lawal be remanded in prison till May 17, 2011 when he would be docked again for another 10-count charges which could not be taken yesterday due to time constraint.