Alleged funds diversion: Buhari to determine SGF fate after investigation – Presidency
The Presidency on Thursday said President Muhammadu Buhari would consider both sides of the matter in the case of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, who was on Wednesday recommended for sack by the Senate.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents.
Adesina was asked whether Buhari would heed the Senate's call to sack Lawal.
But the presidential spokesman said the President was a fair-minded person who would look at both sides before taking a decision.
'The SGF has defended himself. The President is very fair minded. He will look at both sides of the matter,' he simply said.
The Senate had at plenary on Wednesday called for the removal and prosecution of the SGF following alleged complicity in the diversion of the North-East humanitarian funds.
This followed the presentation of the interim report of the Ad hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East by the Chairman of the Committee, Shehu Sani.
The call for Lawal's removal followed alleged contravention of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act and the Federal Government's Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to award of contracts.
Presenting the report, Sani said 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 Global Vision Engineering Limited, a company, with Lawal as Director, for instance, was awarded the consultancy contract.
Sani said despite being an IT company, the firm got a job to clear grass in Yobe at N200m
'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.
Lawal has denied all the allegations, saying 'the Senate is talking balderdash; it has developed a bring-him-down syndrome.'
But members of the Senate on Thursday carpeted Lawal, for dismissing their allegations against him.
He said it was an attempt by the senators to malign him. He asked why the committee did not invite him during the investigative hearing to confront him with the allegations.
The lawmakers resolved to report Lawal to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Senators, who spoke on the SGF's reaction to their corruption allegations against him during the plenary on Thursday tongue-lashed Lawal, saying he was not fit to occupy such position in government.
The lawmakers specifically called on security and anti-graft agencies to arrest and prosecute Lawal, who is overseeing the presidential initiative, for allegedly owning one of the companies awarded contracts in the rehabilitation of the North-East.
Lawal said he had resigned his directorship of the company after becoming the SGF and after the company had executed the contract.
Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), who raised the issue on the floor, while quoting headlines from some national daily newspapers, said Nigeria's reputation and that of the Senate had been 'disparaged by the use of gutter language against men that are described as 'distinguished.''
Melaye said, '…This SGF, who is on his way out, also denied and called us liars, I heard his voice on radio: he said we are liars; that he resigned since 2015. I said yesterday that every lie has an expiry date. The lie he told against the Senate is about to expire.'
The lawmaker, while displaying some documents in the chamber, said he had certified true copies of documents from the Corporate Affairs Commission to puncture Lawal's claims.
The senator called on the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to protect the institution of the Senate 'so that nobody wakes up tomorrow and begin to commit us to ridicule and insult.'
In his submission, the Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na'Allah, said the 8th Senate, in pursuance with its commitment to 'cooperate fully' with Buhari in fighting corruption, constituted a committee to investigate the alleged mismanagement of North-East rehabilitation funds.
He said, '…With the greatest respect, we have an investigation to complete; we are determined to do that, and we are irrevocably determined to do that.'
He said, 'We will - and rightly so - that the Office of the SGF occupied by David Babachir (Lawal) should not in any way want to toy with the institution of the National Assembly, especially the Senate.'