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Buhari Carpets Senate Over SGF’s Indictment, Re-presents Magu for confirmation as EFCC Boss

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday faulted the Senate on its recent call for immediate resignation of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) David Babachir Lawal from office over his alleged involvement in financial scam rocking Presidential Initiatives on North East Development.

The President in another letter forwarded to the Senate also faulted it on its rejection of Ibrahim Magu Mustapha as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The Senate had in December last year through resolutions on report from its  ad-hoc committee  on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in North East, indicted the SGF over an alleged N200million contract scam  awarded to his private company (Rhola Vision) and called for his removal.

Twenty four hours after precisely on Wednesday December 15, 2016, the senate reject ted the request of President Buhari for Magu’s confirmation as EFCC Chairman based on alleged indictment by security report from the Department of State Service (DSS).

But President Buhari in two separate letters to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki read on the floor of the Senate, picked holes in the resolutions of the senate on both issues.

In giving his backing to the embattled SGF, the President accused the Senate of witch hunting the SGF as he alleged that Lawal was not given a fair hearing by the upper legislative chamber before the guilty verdict was passed on him.

He said the report being an interim one, should not have been forwarded to him because it has not been debated and a final report submitted and adopted by the senate.

The letter reads in part: “Following a receipt of your letter, I setup a review team to consider the recommendations from the senate committee. I have also conducted further investigation based on Engr Lawal’s response to the allegations and issues raised in the Senate resolution.  I have come to the following conclusion that I believe will guide the senate in the proper review of its interim report and eventual resolution.

“The report forwarded to the presidency by the senate which informed the decision that Engr Babachir Lawal should resign and be prosecuted by the relevant authority S/075/02/016 was an interim report as against a final report which ought to have be presented to the senate in the plenary for adoption as a binding and final report before submission to the presidency given the weight of allegations made in the report.

“The senate committee setup to investigate the mounting humanitarian crisis in the northeast comprised of nine members namely,  senator Oluremi Tinubu,  senator Mohammed Hassan, Senator Solomon Adeola, senator Ben Murray Bruce,  Senator Tayo Alasoadura,  Senator Theodore Orji,  Senator Yahaya A. Abdullahi, Senator Mallam Aliu Wakili and Senator Issac M Alfa.

“The review of the interim report shows that the interim report was only signed by only three out of the 9 members namely Senator Solomon Adeola, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, and Senator Isaac M. Alfa

“The signing of the interim report by three out of 9 members of the committee makes it a minority report of the Senate committee and not a committee report being an interim report. Thus, presenting a challenge for the presidency to determine the weight to attach to the report as currently presented.

“It is also on record that company linked to him Rollervision engineering limited was also not invited at anytime before the committee to defend himself against the allegations which eventually formed the fulcrum of the Senate’s case against the company.

“You are invited to note that non application of principles of fair hearing by the senate ad-hoc committee is a clear contravention of section 36 (1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and against all principles of rule of law as initiated in the Nigerian legal system as well as the roles of the National Assembly committees on handling of public petitions.

“Consequently, I am of the view that baring other considerations that may arise as a result of subsequent investigation of Engr Lawal by the interim ad-hoc committee. The current report as presented to the presidency in its own right does not meet the principles of fair hearing and compliance with the senate rules for conduct of investigations in matters relating to abuse of office by public officers”.

However the Chairman of the committee, Senator Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna Central), in his comments faulted all the claims made by the president in the letter, saying the committee did a thorough job.

Shehu Sani who rose through Order 43 (matter of personal explanation), said the president lied on all observations made.

He said: “It is shocking to me that such a letter can come from the presidency with such misinformation and outright distortions.

“They lied by saying that the committee didn’t invite the SGF: the committee invited the SGF and the letter was acknowledged by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the SGF, Mr Aminu Nashimu.

“To make sure that we buttress our point, we made a paid advert in three or four national dailies: this one was published on Dec. 2, 2016 and the SGF is clearly mentioned as one of those that are expected to come and appear before the National Assembly.

“Secondly, issues were raised that only three members of the committee signed that interim report that was also a second lie coming from the Presidency. I have a copy of the interim report which was initially signed by seven members of the 9 members of that committee and I am going to submit it to the clerk of the Senate.

“Even if it is 9 and then three people sign, we still have a quorum, but here i have 7 people. I will say also that, i listened to the list of the names that were read and they omitted the chairman which is me. This shows clearly how the SGF and his minions in the Presidency misinformed the President to sign this letter.

“I will say this clearly; this letter is a funeral service for the anticorruption fight of Mr. President. When it comes to fighting corruption in the National Assembly and the Judiciary and in the larger Nigeria sectors, the President uses insecticide and when it comes to fighting corruption within the presidency, they use deodorants.

“I stand by the report of that committee and it is very clear to us: if we can allow this committee’s report to be shredded into pieces then i think it would be in order for us to open all the 138 prisons in this country for all the convicts and awaiting trial inmates to go scot free.

“It is unfortunate that we have a political atmosphere where you have a saintly and angelic presidency and a devilish and evil society. We must in every respect fight corruption within the kitchen as we do in the veranda; if we don’t do that then we are being hypocritical”.

Briefing the media after the plenary, the Senate’s spokesman, Senator Aliyu  Sabi Abdullahi (APC Niger North) said that the Senate stand by its earlier stance on SGF.

 

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