As earlier indicated by PREMIUM TIMES, the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, again on Thursday, shunned the Senate committee on mounting humanitarian crisis in the north east whose allegations originally caused his suspension.
The Senate probe committee chaired by Shehu Sani, APC-Kaduna, had written Mr. Lawal on Wednesday, asking him to appear before its hearing today, Thursday.
It was the third time Mr. Lawal would be invited by the committee which blew the lid of the procurement frauds at the Presidential Initiative for the North East, an intervention agency under the office of the SGF.
Mr. Lawal, in the interim report of the Shehu Sani committee adopted by the Senate last December, was accused of retaining directorship of a company, Rholavision, while being the SGF and using 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.
Senate sources had disclosed to PREMIUM TIMES that the embattled Mr. Lawal may not appear before the committee as his aides refused to accept the invitation letter on Wednesday.
This was confirmed by the probe committee during its hearing on Thursday. Mr. Lawal was alleged to have chased away legislative officials who had taken the invitation letter to him.
Nevertheless, the committee gave the suspended SGF up to noon to appear, before eventually ending the session without the invitee.
Mr. Sani said the committee would submit its final report to the Senate next week, despite the non-appearance of Mr. Lawal as well as his company Rholavision.
Following the adoption of the committee’s interim report last December, the Senate had resolved to demand President Muhammadu Buhari suspend and prosecute Mr. Lawal.
But the President wrote back, rejecting the call for action against Mr. Lawal. He said, in January, that the Senate did not extend principle of fair hearing to the SGF and that the damning report itself was a ‘minority report’.
However, Mr. Buhari last week announced the suspension of Mr. Lawal over the allegations made by the Senate, and constituted a three-man investigative committee under Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo to investigate Mr. Lawal, while he was asked to go on suspension. Mr. Lawal has since appeared before the Osinbajo committee which was given 14 days to submit its report.
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