President Muhammadu Buhari has written the Senate in response to the lawmakers’ indictment of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and consequent call for his removal and prosecution.
Mr. Buhari, in his letter read by Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday, defended Mr. Lawal and gave reasons he could not act as demanded by the Senate.
The Senate had in December last year asked President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Mr. Lawal and ensure his prosecution over alleged breach of Nigerian laws in handling contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).
The Senate’s call followed the interim report of its ad-hoc committee on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East” led by Shehu Sani which indicted Mr. Lawal for receiving N200 million contract to clear “invasive plant species” in Yobe State through a company, Rholavision Nigeria Limited.
The Senate said Mr. Lawal remained a director of the company till September 2016, over a year after his appointment, in breach of Nigeria’s code of conduct for public officials as enshrined in the 1999 constitution.
Mr. Lawal denied the allegations, dismissed the Senate as saying “balderdash”, and accused the lawmakers of attempt “to bring him him down at all cost”.
In his reaction conveyed through the letter read by Mr. Saraki Tuesday, Mr. Buhari said the SGF was not given fair hearing before the indictment.
He said Mr. Lawal said neither the SGF nor the company said to have been used to perpetrate the alleged illegality was invited by the the Shehu Sani-committee.
He also said the report of the committee was signed by three of the nine members of the ad hoc commitee, thus making its report a minority report.
Consequently, the president said he had no choice than to not to act against Mr. Lawal as canvassed by the Senate.
But in a quick reaction, Mr. Sani raised a point of order to defend his commitee’s report.
He said Mr. Buhari’s claims were false, insisting that Mr. Lawal and other parties were involved and his committee had evidence.
He also said seven of nine members of the committee signed the report, not three of nine as claimed by Mr. Buhari.
See below, the LETTER President Muhammadu Buhari sent to the Nigerian Senate to clear Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal