Senators react to suspension of SGF Babachir Lawal

Nigerian Senate
Nigerian Senate

Shehu Sani, the senator heading the committee that blew the lid of the contract frauds at the Presidential Initiative for the North East, PINE, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for suspending the official at the centre of the scandal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.

Mr. Buhari announced the suspension of Mr. Lawal Wednesday afternoon over allegations of breach of law and due process in the contracts awarded by PINE. The allegations were made by the Senate ad-hoc committee on ‘mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East’ chaired by Mr. Sani last December.

The Senate adopted Mr. Sani’s interim report which contained the allegations and, thus, resolved to call for Mr. Lawal’s suspension and prosecution.

“It is commendable that the president has taken the senate committee report and recommendations seriously,” Mr. Sani (APC-Kaduna) told PREMIUM TIMES.

But before now, the President hadrejected  the call for action against Mr. Lawal. He said, in January, that the Senate did not extend principle of fair hearing to the suspended SGF and that the damning report itself was a ‘minority report’.

Specifically, Mr. Lawal was accused of holding directorship of a company, Rholavision, while being the SGF and used same company, originally registered for ICT services in 1990, to receive ‘grass-cutting’ consultancy contract from PINE, an agency under his supervision, all in breach of Nigeria’s code of conduct for public officials.

The company received the money but did not execute the contract, the committee found.

Mr. Lawal denied the allegation and dismissed the Senate of talking ‘balderdash’.

The infamous ‘grass-cutting’ scandal and the way Mr. Buhari appeared to have cleared the SGF initially impacted on the president’s popularity and raised questions about his commitment to fighting corruption, especially one perpetrated by officials under him.

“The sword of truth is not just cast and sharpened for the neck of foes but also for those of friends,” said Mr. Sani, after the eventual suspension.

He had, in immediate reaction to the president’s earlier clearance of the SGF,accused the president of bias, mockingly saying corruption in presidency was being treated deodorant.

He added: “It’s commendable for the president to heed the call to fumigate the throne of lice and bugs with the same ability he goes after rodents afar.”

“The senate and the committee have nothing personal against the SGF or any person affected, but we simply did our job in conformity with our constitutional responsibilities and the moral calling of our conscience.

“We cannot jubilate because a mighty mortal is caught in the trap of his fate, we are neither saints nor angels, but we have a duty to raise a card a blow the whistle.”

Similarly, a Peoples Democratic Party Senator from Edo State, Matthew Urhoghide, told the News Agency of Nigeria that suspension of the SGF following the Senate’s call meant both executive and legislative arms were working cooperatively to check corruption.

“We are all complimenting each other’s effort in fighting corruption, and that is the truth,” Mr. Urhoghide was quoted as saying by NAN.

He was reported to have also asked the president to heed the Senate’s call that the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, be dropped.

The Edo lawmaker was a major voice in the deliberation that led to the Senate’s suspension of the confirmation of 27 nominees for the positions of Resident Electoral Commissioners in protest against the refusal of the President to sack Mr. Magu, despite his repeated rejection by the lawmakers.

The spokesperson for Senate President Bukola Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said his principal had no personal view on the SGF’s suspension, saying ‘it’s a Senate matter’.

Senate spokesperson, Aliyu Abdullahi could not be reached for comment as his telephone was off at the time efforts were being made to get through to him.

The President suspended Mr. Lawal alongside the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke, on Wednesday and directed they be investigated by a three-man committee consisting of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as chairman; National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; and the AttorneyGeneral of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

Mr. Oke is to face probe over the huge cash discovered at an Ikoyi, Lagos, apartment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which he claimed belonged to the NIA.


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  • Kevin Peter

    While this is commendable in the face of the fight against corruption, the decision to suspend the SGF is long overdue. Other members of the executive earlier indicted for one issue or the other should equally follow suit. By the way, I guess the presidency had no other tangible excuse to give regarding the cancellation of FEC meeting for today and so had to come up with this announcement to divert peoples’ attention especially in the wake of Mr. President’s frequent absence from major functions since he came back from his vacation/medical trip. The name of the game is “FUMBLING” until they get it RIGHT!

  • Gerald Okoduwa

    The senators are pots calling kettle black. When the FG withdrew your case of forgery of senate rules from court, the executive was right but they were ‘wrong’ in not dismissing Lawal just because you pronounced him guilty without trial. Lawal will pay for his crime but some senators may be prosecuted with him as reports have it that his inability to meet your illicit demands was what brought about the exposure. It is too early for you to be making noise.

    • Suleiman Alatise

      Of course, that is a good observation, it remains just an indictment until proven, besides, we all know and understand the motive has you have rightly pointed out. Sani and co should not rejoice yet, what goes around must come around.

  • Tijani

    What took Buhari so long? Is this not the same presidency directed by fake pastor fake professor VP Osinbajo in acting capacity that told Babachir Lawal to ignore senate summons? Fools.

    • Sanssouci

      Oga Tijani i was asking myself the same question, timing is suspicious, what took so long? Better late than never sha….But i think this has to do with appeasing the senate small, u see, now even if baba does not sack magu it wont look like total disrespect he has met them halfway with lawal and everybody can be happy to have made a point and move on. Saraki must be very happy with all these scandals 1 whole week without his name being in the media…

    • Julius

      Ha, again you have to lie to yourself to say what’s on your mind. Why are you such a coward ?. This is so sickling and unmanly . Get help.

      • Tijani

        You dear Julius are afflicted with fatally short fake pastorian dullardeen faulty memory.

  • Okokondem

    Nigerians revel in the daily unfolding politics of personality, allegations and counter accusations of impropriety and malfeasance. What suffers in the process unfortunately, is governance the absence of which means no roads, no power and no accountability.

    I can’t believe a member of the Nigerian senate, the highest paid of his kind anywhere in the world, is taking a victory lap for pointing out a fellow tresurey looter and people are here singing praises of him. What is wrong with you people? What is wrong with Nigerians?

    Back to the SGF…imagine the audacity, not only is awarding himself/his company a contract a flagrant violation and outright conflict of interest, he DID NOT even do the work for which he was paid. What is this ‘grass cutting’ by the way that costs billions of naira, how large is the area?

  • commentsfile..!!

    This people will soon realize that
    Buhari don set them up …
    Senators, soon, very soon we go
    ask una how market…because the
    pressure being pilled on Buhari on
    this corruption war will soon move
    in your direction..goodluck with jonathan.

  • Okokondem

    People, can we stop reacting with astonishment to every sordid revelation of malfeasance and blatant embezzlement of public finance which is now a daily occurrence.

    Nigerians in public office have for the longest time come to the conclusion that nothing they do, no crime they commit has serious consequences, that being the function of a gullible society with no resolve to end the scourge of corruption and abuse of public trust.

    Having said that, can anyone here foresee a situation where a Nigerian finds himself in a position awash with ‘oil money’ and not be confronted with the temptation to steal as much as he believes he could get away with? That’s the problem, especially when people who betray the public trust by embezzling public finance are often heralded in their communities.

    Until Nigerians start seeing corruption as just that, even when the perpetrator is their own brothers, the problem will be with us for longer than we think. So don’t blame me for not getting excited in the wake of development such as Buhari’s suspension of his SGF because it doesn’t mean a thing until there’s an indictment and subsequently a conviction if guilty.

  • javscong javscong

    It is all well and good that these senators are applauding the President. Perhaps it is now time for the senate to show some character by cleaning its own augean stable. Is it not time to rid the senate of Saraki and elect a more credible leadership? I feel scandalised as a Nigerian that the highest legislative body in my country is being led by a person of such questionable character like Saraki. This man has been indicted and is facing prosecution so why can the senators not have the courage to remove him? Until that is done, nothing that senate does will ingratiate it in the eyes and minds of Nigerians. There are many questionable characters in that senate BUT there are still one or two who have not been tainted who will be more acceptable to Nigerians.

  • Olatubosun

    Nigeria has been sanitized

  • Olatubosun

    Saraki needs to be suspended

  • Blessing

    Senators double standard, silent on their own and vocal on others. Sorry Magu stays, do your worst.