SGF, NIA DG’s Suspension, A Ruse – PDP …Seeks Independent Inquiry, Lawal, Oke’s Arrest …Dissolve Prof Sagay-Led Committee – Sen Sani

R-L: Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike , Leader of International Church Impact Communion, Archbishop John Praise, Chief of Staff Government House, Engr Emeka Woke and Special Adviser to the Governor on Religious Matters, Bishop Winston Iwo during the inspection of the completed Government House Chapel , recently.

The Senator Ahmed Makarfi -led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called for the setting up of an independent commission of inquiry to probe the events that led to the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Babachir Lawal and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke.
Makarfi, who is heading the party’s national caretaker committee, which is still contesting its sacking by the Court of Appeal at the Supreme Court, described the suspension of the two men as a ruse.
The former governor of Kaduna State, stated this in a statement signed by the spokesperson for the caretaker committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, in Abuja, yesterday.
The two men were suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Wednesday.
While the former SGF was suspended over alleged contract scam in the North-East, Oke was asked to step aside following the discovery of more than $43million at a private residence in Ikoyi, Lagos last week.
Oke was alleged to have kept the money where it was found.
However, Makarfi said that he was not surprised that some Nigerians have applauded the suspension, which he said might have indicated a new commitment by President Buhari to fight the anti-corruption war without fair or favour.
The PDP faulted the suspension of the embattled Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal, and Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb. Ayo Oke, insisting that the duo should have been arrested.
The party, however, described the suspension as an attempt to dress up a “failed anti-corruption war”, saying that the APC-led Federal Government has suddenly realised the corruption allegation levelled against the SGF; and instead of arresting and detaining him as the government has been doing to PDP members and other Nigerians, he was rather suspended and a committee set-up to investigate him.
The party frowned at the President’s decision to suspend the duo, saying, “this is to say the least, double standard.”
He nevertheless said that he and his team were constrained to point out that the action was another ruse to deceive Nigerians and dress up what he described as the failed anti corruption war, in a new garb.
He asked Nigerians to recall that the Senate had earlier set-up an Ad-Hoc Committee in 2016 headed by Senator Shehu Sani, a Senator representing Kaduna Central, to investigate the expenditures and activities of the Presidential Initiative for North-East, which Babachir in his capacity as the SGF was overseeing.
The committee, he said, also investigated the alarming rate of humanitarian crisis in the North-East occasioned by the diversion of grains from the Strategic Grains Reserve and other food supplies meant for the Internally Displaced Persons in that Region.
Adeyeye, a former minister of state for works, said that the committee indicted the suspended SGF for the alleged mismanagement of PINE Funds and the award of multi-million Naira grass Cutting Contract to one of his companies, Rholavision Engineering Limited and other ghost companies.
The party said that contrary to expectations, the presidency, in a letter of January 17, 2017, to the Senate, discredited the committee’s recommendations and refused to sack or prosecute Lawal, clearing him of all wrong doing instead.
According to it, instead of arresting and detaining Lawal as being doing to PDP members, there is a double standard of suspending him to be investigated by a committee.
“We are at a loss as to why the president would set up a panel comprising members of his cabinet to investigate other very senior powerful members of the same executive.
“Where is the transparency in that? This is not that we doubt the integrity of the Vice President, who we have the utmost respect, and other members of the committee.
“But, it appears the matter is being settled within the government closet without the transparency, independence and impartiality necessary in a situation like this.’’
The party also recalled that recently the president directed the Attorney-General of the Federation to investigate the SGF’s involvement in the PINE’s contracts.
“That investigation cleared the SGF of all wrong doings in the grass-cutting scandal as stated above.
“It is amazing that the president who swiftly accepted the recommendations of the Attorney-General would now suddenly set up another panel, including the same Attorney-General, to investigate the matter again.
Similarly, the Chairman of the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Humanitarian Crisis in North-East, Senator Shehu Sani, has called for the dissolution of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption.
Sani told newsmen in Abuja yesterday that Wednesday’s suspension of Secretary to Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, clearly showed that the committee was not competent.
He recalled that the committee, headed by Prof. Itse Sagay, had, in the wake of corruption allegations against Lawal over the management of the Presidential Initiative on North-East funds, defended him as being without guilt.
According to him, it has become clear that President Muhammadu Buhari could fight corruption effectively without an advisory body because the one currently in place is incompetent.
Sani said: “President Muhammadu Buhari should as a matter of urgency dissolve his Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption. It is a moribund and irrelevant assemblage.
“A Presidential Advisory Committee headed by a man who defended the SGF is without honour.
“The chairman of the committee attacked me for my report on PINE; now that the president has taken steps in the direction of the committee’s report, I hope the Professor will muster the courage to also attack the president.
“The advisory committee was looking for corruption in Sokoto while it’s there in ‘shokoto’.
“It is sad that most of the mercenary forces hired to rubbish the integrity of the Senate committee and defend those indicted have suddenly lost their voices.”
The lawmaker decried the humanitarian situation in the North-East, saying: “It was made an industry where government officials and even non-governmental organisations, profit from the suffering and the hardships of millions of victims.”
Sani said that while some people saw the millions of orphans and widows produced by the crisis as victims, others saw them as “cash cows”.
Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, who announced the SGF’s suspension in a statement, said Buhari also ordered investigation into allegations of violations of law and due process against him.
The Senate had on December 14, 2016 called for the resignation and prosecution of the Lawal following alleged complicity against him in the diversion of North-East humanitarian funds.
The Senate Ad hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crises in the North-East had, in an interim report, indicted Lawal in the award of contracts under the PINE.
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 by him.
While presenting the report to the senate, Sani said that the committee discovered 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, in which Lawal was a director was awarded consultancy contract.
The company’s major role, according to him, is the removal of invasive plant species in Yobe on March 8.
But the Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, swiftly defended the SGF of any complicity in any of the processes, and faulted the committee for saying Buhari’s administration was “treating corruption in his government with deodorant”.