by Sani Tukur
The Senate has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend and ensure prosecution of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, over alleged breach of Nigeria’s law in handling contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East, PINE
The Senate’s resolution on Wednesday followed the presentation of the report on the mounting humanitarian crisis in the north-east by the Shehu Sani-led ad hoc committee.
Mr. Lawal’s company, Global Vision Ltd., is one of the companies indicted by the committee for allegedly benefiting from inflated and phantom contracts – or ones not executed at all – awarded by the PINE.
Mr. Lawal’s firm was said to have been awarded over N200 million contract to clear ‘invasive plant species’ in Yobe State.
The Committee found that as of the time the contract was awarded in March 2016, Mr. Lawal was still the director of Global Vision and that he just resigned in September.
Yet, currently, Mr. Lawal is the signatory to the company’s account.
Mr. Lawal’s directorship of the Global Vision while being a public official – Secretary General of the Federation – contravened Nigeria’s code of conduct for public officials as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, the Senate held.
Global Vision was incorporated in 1990 to carry out ICT services; but it received a contract to clear grass in 2016 even while the owner is a senior government official, the lawmakers found.
“Babachir Lawal is a disgrace to the All Progressives Congress,” said Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi West); adding that the SGF “is exhibiting anti-Buhari tendency.”
Mr. Melaye led the call for Mr. Lawal’s resignation and prosecution, after Mr. Sani (APC-Kaduna) presented his committee’s report.
Also, Isah Misau (APC-Bauchi) said Mr. Lawal should resign immediately or be suspended and be prosecuted afterward.
Mr. Misau said the Buhari administration was having challenges with performance delivery “because of people like the SGF.” He said the SGF was the one responsible for non-constitution of many boards of the federal government.
Mr. Misau said Mr. Buhari should sack and ensure prosecution of the SGF to prove the seriousness of his anti-corruption campaign.
“Without the prosecution of the SGF, this anti-corruption fight will go nowhere,” he said.
That of SGF was one the numerous scams uncovered by the report, said Adeola Olamilekan (APC-Lagos). He said Mr. Lawal should resign and be prosecuted.
Mr. Sani’s report revealed that the Presidential Initiative for the North East took advantage of the emergency situation to award fraudulent contracts; and also that the realities in the Internally Displaced Persons camps did not commensurate with funds released.
The Senate, therefore, resolved that PINE should turn in all documents pertaining to contracts it had awarded and that all government officials, apart from Mr. Lawal, found to have contravened law in the processes of the contracts should be prosecuted.
The Senate also asked the Federal Ministry of Health to immediately deploy its personnel to the IDP camps to support the international humanitarian crisis managers and military hospitals in the north-east.
It also asked the federal government and state governments in the north-east to ensure an end to the acute food shortage in the IDPs camps, and those infrastructures in the recaptured villages and towns be rebuilt so that IDPs can go back to their homes.