Grass-Cutting Scandal: Why SGF Lawal, Rholavision boss won’t appear before Senate

Babachir Lawal

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, has told the Senate that he will not appear before its ad-hoc committee on ‘mounting crisis in the North East’ on Thursday, saying the subject of his invitation is already a matter in court.

The News Agency of Nigeria, Wednesday evening, reported Mr. Lawal’s decision to shun the hearing slated for Thursday. However, the chairman of the committee, Shehu Sani, and its clerk, told PREMIUM TIMES they were yet to receive any such notice from Mr. Lawal.

In the interim report of the committee presented to the Senate last December, Mr. Lawal was accused of corruption and of breaching the country’s law in the handling of a “grass-cutting” contract and other ones awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), an agency under his supervision.

Following the indictment, the Senate then asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack and prosecute Mr. Lawal, who, in a reaction, said the lawmakers were talking “balderdash.”

In his response to the lawmakers, Mr. Buhari, in a letter to the Senate, defended Mr. Lawal saying he was not given fair hearing, thus necessitating the new summons.

However, Mr. Lawal went to court, challenging his summon, and indicated he would not appear on Thursday.

Similarly, Mr. Sani told PREMIUM TIMES the committee received a letter from Rholavision Ltd., that its “Managing Director” would not be available for Thursday’s hearing because he/she could not be reached.

Rholavision was incorporated as an IT firm by Mr. Lawal in 1990, he confirmed. But it was found by the Senate to have handled a N233 million bush-clearing contract in the north-east in 2016.

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.

In the Rholavision letter seen by PREMIUM TIMES, a manager at its Abuja office wrote, “As of the time we received your letter, our managing director (MD), who lives at our head office in Kaduna, had travelled to his village for a burial of a relation and could not be reached up till today, Tuesday, 21 March, 2017.

“In view of the above, kindly avail the company another suitable date for the committee to enable our MD to appear.”

Mr. Lawal 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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  • The Elder

    AN INSTITUTION IS ONLY AS STRONG AS THE MORAL QUALITY OF ITS LEADER.

    THE SENATE UNDER BUKOLA SARAKI HAS BECOME INFAMY TO BE HISSED AT –

    AN EXECRABLE DEN OF THIEVES TO BE IGNORED BY JUST ANYONE IT SUMMONS.

    • Frank Bassey

      This sounds very idiotic and nonsensical. What has this got to do with the subject-matter? Let him appear and show how clean he is. Corruption has two colours in Nigeria: White for PMB’s men; Black for opposition and others. This selective, sectional, hypocritical, skewed fight against corruption will CONSUME the fighters. Period. Glad the international community has taken note.

  • Bayo

    An IT company was awarded a grass cutting contract?
    Nijeriya?

    • Frank Bassey

      Do not mind them. They are all THIEVES. The President is covering them.

      • ayomi

        Wrong, he is not covering them, they are simply right under his nose, hence he cant see them

    • ayomi

      Nijeriya, land of opportunities

    • Höly Wähala

      …and they ran to court to subvert a probe into why a round peg was used to plug a square hole, tell me Buhari is as corrupt as sin. Why did Lawal appear for his first hearing and not now, what has changed? Don’t mind them jare, that’s why most Nigerians secretely wished Buhari had not come back from London in the first place, things are back to man-know-man. Nonsense!

  • thusspokez

    The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, will not appear before a Senate Committee on Humanitarian Crisis in Northeast on Thursday.

    The Custom boss wouldn’t honour the senate invite and now we have the Secretary to the Government.

    The Senate is one of Nigeria’s very important institutions but its leader is a serial crook and despite facing countless number of cases, still can’t resist his compulsion to commit more crimes. The latest is his fraudulent importation of a very expensive SUV. It is therefore no surprise that the Senate is seen as a disreputable institution and not deserving any respect?But there is the (1) institute of the Senate and (2) the crooks and fruitcake who currently occupy the former.

    One should separate (2) from (1). The Senate will remain as long as Nigeria remains a country and will outlive these current set of crooks and fruitcakes. So irrespective of how and what one thinks of the many crooks and misfits in the Nigerian senate, one must approach the matter with cool head and take a long-term view of Nigeria’s democracy and the Senate as a democratic institutions.

    This gross disrespect shown by Hameed Ali and Babachir Lawal to the Nigerian senate undermines it and is indeed intended to undermine such important democratic institution. It is very dangerous for Nigerian democracy. Indeed, Hameed Ali and Babachir Lawal are setting a dangerous precedents for the future — one which will eventually lead to anarchy in Nigeria.

    What next? Politicians and political appointees refusing to appear before a magistrate or judge in Nigerian courts or undermine the law enforcement agencies?

    This brings be to the role of the nonchalant Buhari, who doesn’t seem to realise that by virtual of his post, he becomes the protector of the Nigeria constitution. Both Hameed Ali and Babachir Lawal are his appointees; he should ask them to attend the Senate hearings; issue public and apologies to (1) the Nigerian people and (2) the Nigerian Senate (as an institution) or face instant dismissals,

    Sadly, as I have said before, Buhari might well be a patriotic Nigerian, but loyalty to family and friends trounces his patriotism and undermines what is good for Nigeria and the preservation of Nigeria’s infant democracy.

  • Sarah

    Either they say a case covering the subject matter is in court or they have gone to bury a relative.

    • ojomaje ijato

      …. Meaning their spin is from same pot brewed by same cook or crook if you like, from same house. Very soon, children will shout SHAME to the chant: APC

  • Okokondem

    “In his response to the lawmakers,
    Mr. Buhari, in a letter to the Senate, defended Mr. Lawal saying he was not given fair hearing, thus necessitating the new summons”

    It’s noteworthy that neither Buhari personally nor his administration saw the need to intervene in the allegations of budget padding leveled against Mr Dogara by Mr Jibrin which clearly has more far reaching consequences.

    The irony of Buhari’s silence on the budget padding issue was not only his self proclaimed reputation as the anti corruption czar, but equally ironic is the lack of interest to get to the bottom of the allegations before planning to borrow $30 billion. By the way whatever happened to the $30 billion loan, did Buhari give up?

  • Mizch

    Rholavision was incorporated as an IT firm by Mr. Lawal in 1990, he confirmed. But it was found by the Senate to have handled a N233 million bush-clearing contract in the north-east in 2016.
    THIS IS COMPUTERIZED GRASS-CUTTING. WE ARE IN IT AGE.

    • Du Covenant

      In Nigeria, market women/girlfriends are awarded road and building construction contracts. This does not seem out of place since we remote controlled lawn mowers and drones these days.

      • Mizch

        So, Up Nigeria!

  • burning spear

    This is what the Yorubas gifted us with—-among the Apes in APC-are the many thieves–Yet Magu the drug addict and head of efcc———-looks at the Niger Delta- and the house of Jonathan in her fake Buhari led anti corruption–war–separation now