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Senate calls for prosecution of SGF, Lawal over North-East contract fraud …your call a witch-hunt – Lawal fires back at lawmakers

By The Citizen
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The Senate, on Wednesday, called for the resignation and prosecution of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, David Babachir Lawal over infractions involving public procurement, particularly, contract awards by the Presidential Initiative on North East, PINE.

Following the Interim Report of The Senate's Ad-Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the Northeast, the Senate indicted the SGF of sharp practices in expending the funds meant for alleviating the sufferings of the displaced in North East as well as other sharp practices.

According to the report, Lawal allegedly owns one of the companies awarded contracts in the rehabilitation of the North-East.

It said Lawal resigned from the directorship of the company in September 2016 but was still a signatory to the company's account.

Raising a motion for his resignation and prosecution, Senator Dino Melaye, while reading the report of the Ad hoc committee on Mounting Humanitarian Services in the NorthEast said, the 'company was awarded a consultancy contract on invasive plant species in Yobe State'.

'The company owned by SGF Babachir Lawal to which he resigned as a director in Sept. 2016 but still a signatory to the company's account'.

Melaye said the SGF's action was an embarrassment to the anti-corruption stance of President Muhammadu Buhari's government.

He therefore called for the resignation and prosecution of Lawal.

Seconding the call, Senator Solomon Adeola also said that 'the actions of the FG in recent times is nothing to write home about.'

He said Engr. David Babachir Lawal should immediately resign his appointment as SGF and be prosecuted accordingly.

Also, Senator Baba Kaka Garbai raised the additional prayer that David Babachir Lawal should immediately resign as SGF and be prosecuted accordingly while Senator Ahmed Sani seconded the additional prayer.

However, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki put the prayer to Vote and the Yays had it that SGF Babachir Lawal should resign.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki pointed out that the need for medical personnel from @Fmohnigeria will be followed up as well as the need for food items.

He said the AdHoc Cttee has reported some infractions while noting that Nigeria cannot continue with business as usual.

Saraki further charged a New @NePcni to see to the diligent use of resources and proper coordination.

Saraki noted that issues of corruption in the N/E be seen to a rapid conclusion. He agreed with Senator Isah Misau that APC will see things and not cover it up. He also charged the Executive arm to take the resolutions and recommendations seriously and implement them.

The Senate therefore approved the recommendation that any Government Official found culpable of sharp practices be suspended and prosecuted.

Senate Leader Ali Ndume pointed out that humanitarian funds as much as $417Million has been sent to the North East yet no sign of such funds.

Meanwhile, the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal, says calls by the Senate for his resignation and prosecution was an attempt to rubbish his person.

Lawal made this known while speaking to newsmen shortly after the 2017 Budget Proposal presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari before the joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday in Abuja.

Lawal said he was never invited by the Senate committee to give his own side of the story before its report was sent to the Senate for deliberation.

He described the whole process as a witchhunt.
Efforts to get more response from the SGF failed as he did not respond to further questions.

The Senate had at plenary earlier called for the resignation and prosecution of the SGF following alleged complicity in the diversion of the North East humanitarian funds.

This followed the presentation of interim report of the Adhoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East by the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Shehu Sani.

The call for Lawal's resignation followed alleged contravention of the provisions of Public Procurement Act and the Federal Government Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to award of contracts.

Presenting the report, Sani said that some of the contracts were awarded to companies belonging to top government officials' cronies and family members.

He explained that the committee found out that Rholavision Engineering Limited, a company, with Lawal as Director, for instance, was awarded consultancy contract.

The company's major role, according to him, is the removal of invasive plant species in Yobe on March 8.

'Although, Lawal resigned the directorship of the said company in September 2016, it is on record that he is a signatory to the accounts of the company,'' he said.

The adhoc committee was directed to expedite action on its findings to submit a complete report on the humanitarian crisis in the North East.