Sales Of FG Properties:  Senate Ask FG To Sack PIC Boss 

Source: EMMA UCHE -

ABUJA, July 04, (THEWILL) - The Federal Government has been urged to sack the Executive Secretary of the Presidential Implementation Committee (PIC), Dr. Mohammed Lawal Yahuza, the Senate Committee probing the sale of Government properties has said.

The investigation, which was carried out by the Senate Committee on Housing and Urban Development also found officials of the Presidential Implementations Committee (PIC) wanting for alleged unwholesome acts, including preferential treatment and allocations in breach of the guidelines and the constitution.

The report therefore recommended the removal from office of the PIC Executive Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Lawal Yahuza and for the Federal Government to carry out sweeping personnel changes in the committee to be able to sanitize the sector. This was even as it recommended the dissolution of the PIC board and the disbandment of the Presidential task force forthwith as no such body is recognized under any Nigeria law.

The report revealed that members of the PIC hardly meet to discuss and take decisions on its functions, with the result that the Executive Secretary now assumes the whole powers of the entire body, and this has given rise to unchecked despotism and abuse of power. "The PIC board should be disbanded; a new Executive Secretary appointed," they recommended.

The 120-page report which was laid on the floor of the Senate last week Thursday, also asked that the upper chamber to invoke its constitutional powers to compel the Minister of Housing, Hon. Nduese Essein and the Executive Secretary of the PIC to appear before it to produce the financial records of the committee.

The report which was endorsed by the Chairman, Senator Ikechukwu Obiora and all the committee members, accused the PIC officials of acquiring vested interest in the sales and as such obstructed several activities of the probe.

Particularly, the Senate committee report ‘deprecate in very strong terms the role played by the former Minister of Housing and Urban Development as well as the past and present Executive Secretaries in obstructing the inquiry into financial records of PIC.

The probe into the sales was sequel to several petitions complaining that certain choice properties were allocated to ‘Notable Nigerians’ who were not sitting tenants and who never participated in the open bidding process in the first instance.

"At the hearing the attention of the PIC was drawn to these allegations and its officials confirmed that some houses were reserved for and allocated to certain individuals who were described as Notable Nigerians.

"However, the PIC officials were unable to state the qualifications for becoming a Notable Nigerian. Neither did they furnish our Committee with the list of the so called Notable Nigerians, nor the houses or properties that were reserved or allocated to these individuals.

"This development becomes very disturbing when viewed against the backdrop of Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution."

The report noted that raising some Nigerians to occupy the pedestal of "Notable" and on that basis according them privileges to the detriment of other Nigerians negates the inviolable rights of equality and non discrimination guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution, which "we all swore to uphold and maintain at all times."

The report further observed that the Ministry and PIC officials were not forthcoming with the list of the ‘Notable Nigerians’ who were allocated property as well as the list of property they were allocated in breach of the guidelines and the Constitution, when they were invited to appear before the committee.

Instead; "the PIC officials pleaded for more time to furnish us with the documents, but till date they have made one excuse or the other. We shall invoke our constitutional powers to compel appearances and production of relevant documents.

The investigation dwelt mostly on sale of Federal Government houses in Lagos State and the apparent shortchanging of the sitting tenants. The committee recommended in the report that sitting tenants should be allowed to take advantage of the extension of time granted all sitting tenants because ‘the whole idea behind the sale of the houses is to make it possible for government workers to own their own houses.

"The workers are the target beneficiaries of the exercise, none should be disenfranchised or denied this opportunity," the report said.