Grass-Cutting Scandal: SGF Lawal makes U-turn, promises to appear before Senators on new date

Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal.

Less than 24 hours after he told senators investigating him and others for alleged fraud that he would not appear before them, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, has made a U-turn.

Mr. Lawal was summoned by the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Humanitarian Crisis in North-East which had earlier indicted him for his role in a N230 million grass-cutting scandal.

Following his indictment, the Senate had called for his removal by President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on January 24 read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari stating that Mr. Lawal was not given fair hearing at first hearing, thus leading to the new invitation.

Mr. Lawal and the Managing Director of a company he established, Rholavision, were asked to appear before the Senate committee today, Thursday, in a public hearing.

However, on Wednesday, the SGF wrote to the Senate, saying he would not appear as he had filed a case in court against his invitation.

“Your letter of invitation to appear before the above committee refers.

“I wish to kindly request that you draw the attention of the other members of the committee that I will not be able to appear before the committee primarily because I have gone to court to challenge the invitation among others.

“Please find attached the court documents,” Mr. Lawal was quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria as saying in the letter.

Rholavision also wrote to the Senate committee that it’s managing director would not appear as he was bereaved having recently lost a close person.

Based on the decision of the two invitees, the Senate committee postponed the hearing to a new date yet to be fixed.

However, on Thursday, Mr. Lawal again wrote the Senate committee, asking it to reschedule the public hearing to enable him attend.

In the letter dated March 22, he said he could not honour the Thursday invitation due to an engagement, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

Rholavision was incorporated as an IT firm by Mr. Lawal in 1990, he had confirmed. The company was found by the Senate to have handled a N233 million bush-clearing contract in the north-east in 2016. While money was paid for the contract, the work was not done, the senators said.

The Senate alleged that as at the time the contract was awarded in March 2016, Mr. Lawal was still a director in the company and that he only resigned in September of that year.

Even so, as at the time of presenting the interim report, the Senate said Mr. Lawal “is the signatory to the company’s account.”

Mr. Lawal’s directorship of Rholavision while being a public official contravened Nigeria’s code of conduct for public officials as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, the Senate said.

Mr. Lawal has, however, insisted he resigned from Rholavision after he was appointed SGF in 2015, before the company got involved in the controversial north-east contract.


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  • MO the Observer

    liar… this guy must be thoroughly probed… else , I will see Buhari as biased

  • thusspokez

    Less than 24 hours after he told senators investigating him and others for alleged fraud that he would not appear before them, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, has made a U-turn.

    My guess is that his boss must have ordered him to do so. In any case, it is the descent thing to do.

    If Nigerians, particularly, senior public officials don’t respect the democratic institutions, then such actions will undermine the foundation of democracy. and eventually destroy Nigeria’s democracy which is still in its infancy.

  • Opekete

    Incidentally the man was awarded 233 million naira contract to cut grass while the senate president bought a bullet proof car valued at 294 million naira. While the grass cutter will spread the money to some few people though the better part of it will end up in his pocket, the senate president will ride his car alone and of course his driver will enjoy the luxury too. O! I forgot his families will enjoy the luxury too but he did not even pay the right amount of import duty on the car thereby shortchanging the trickle down effect of the money he withheld from reaching the poor sick ones and the children of the poor who cannot afford vital education materials. What an irony to imagine that the senate president will sit in judgement on this kind of a case. Our politicians are contortionists.

  • dave jacob

    Good! This is the dignifying path to tread. Go there, and prove your innocence. We watch!!!

  • FreeNigeria

    Why was an IT firm given a bush clearing contract? is the bush IT related? God this country Nigeria, everything corruption and greed oozes from it.

  • Du Covenant

    Why are our people so easily compromised?. why are we so greedy?…no basic understanding of what conflict of interest means because corruption has eaten so deep into every fabric of our society and the elite just don’t give a damn!.

  • Okokondem

    With all due respect, what is wrong
    in giving some depth to this report.

    What is IT? Information Technology? If so what is an Information Technology company doing cutting grass or clearing bushes?

    How large is the bushes in question, and what is its relevance to the federal government to cost N230 million to clear?

    For context, yesterday I read that Fashola’s ministry, works, has approved N80 billion for road projects in 12 states, most of which are in the north. Here’s a quote from that article

    “Mr. Fashola said another approval is for the engineering and consultancy design for access road 1 and 2 ‎to link Asaba in Delta State and Onitsha in Anambra State to link the Second Niger Bridge project.”

    The budget for these two access roads on the opposite ends of the second Niger Bridge (if ever built) linking Asaba to the bridge on one end, and Onitsha on the other end, is a miserly N150 million. Miserly in comparison to N230 million for cutting grass or clearing bushes the size of which we don’t know.

    So, why we pull our hair out in anguish over whether Mr Lawal agreed to appear before the NASS or not, for an exercise or process that is largely inconsequential in the sense that it will do nothing to alleviate the problems facing ordinary men and women in the society, let us stop and ask pertinent questions.

    Let us be conerned instead with the amount of money involved in cutting grass in Maidugri or wherever. These news articles it seems have become a place of daily gathering to shoot breeze.