…Vindicates Senator Shehu Sani’s Committee Report
By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Presidential panel led by Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, which investigated the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, has completed its work with the recommendation that the duo are culpable of alleged offences and therefore should be sacked.
Sundiata Post recalls that in April, President Muhammadu Buhari set up a three-man committee to investigate the allegations of violations of law and due process made against Lawal in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East and Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke, over the discovery of $43.4 million from a residential apartment in Ikoyi Lagos by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission linked to him.
The panel made up of Acting President, Prof Yemo Osinbajo as chairman, National Security Adviser, General Babagana Monguno (rtd) and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami as members.
Prior to the setting up of the panel, the Senate ad-hoc committee led by Senator Shehu Sani investigating the mounting humanitarian crisis in the northeast has asked the relevant agencies to prosecute the suspended SGF, Babachir Lawal, for alleged contract fraud.
The committee states that Babachir Lawal breached his oaths of office as SGF by allegedly awarding contracts worth N500m to a company in which he had interests.
It also recommended that all resources that have been misapplied or stolen by public officials should be retrieved from the SGF and that he be suspended from office and prosecuthe be suspended from office and prosecuted accordingly.
However, the executive through the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami was quick to accuse the Senate of not giving the SGF a fair hearing rather than initiating an investigation.
This position of the executive and the inclusion of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) as a member of the panel, created impression in the minds of Nigerians that the executive is in an exercise to save its own.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s report which has recommended total disengagement and replacement of the SGF and NIA of the accused offences, clearly stated in the report that they should not be brought back to their positions.
This is a vindication of the Senator Shehu Sani-led committee.
President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Babachir and Oke on April 19 and gave it two weeks to submit its report before, this was later extended.
The panel investigated allegations of violations of law and due process made against Lawal in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE), while it probed Oke on the discovery of huge cash by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, for which NIA laid claim.
A Senate Committee on Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, which had earlier found the suspended SGF culpable of alleged complicity in a N200million grass-cutting contract to clear “invasive plant species” in Yobe State, had demanded his resignation and prosecution.
In accordance with Buhari’s directive, the most senior permanent secretary in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr Habibat Lawal and Oke’s senior deputy, Ambassador Arab Yadam, are currently acting as SGF and Director-General of the NIA respectively.
A senior government official, who is close to the panel, confirmed that the report of the investigations indicted both officials.
“The report of the investigations is ready. The two suspended officials were recommended for total disengagement and replacement. It is clearly stated in the report that they should not be brought back to their positions. They are to be disengaged as recommended.
“As promised, the committee gave fair hearing to all the parties involved. It was a thorough investigation. You would recall that the investigation was slightly extended beyond the two-week period which Mr President gave the committee,” the source stated.
The panel was scheduled to submit its report to President Buhari on Monday, May 8, but he left the country May 7 for further medical check-ups in the UK.