Worried by some reports that some forces within the Presidency are plotting to save suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal, Senate has moved to block the plot.
After adopting its final report on the alleged misconduct of Lawal in handling of projects and contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE), the Red Chamber agreed to, immediately, send its resolution to President Muhammadu Buhari, for immediate implementation.
Lawmakers adjourned and re-opened the chamber within 10 minutes, to approve the day’s Votes and Proceedings, to complete the parliamentary process required on any matter before its resolution is conveyed to the president.
In his remarks at plenary, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, confirmed there is pressure to reinstate the SGF.
He said: “The quality of the report, despite political pressure that we know exists, is highly commendable. The facts and document available to the committee are damning. The problem in the North East will not get better unless we do something urgently.
“What is happening in the North East calls to question, activities of the anti-graft agencies.
“I don’t think that Babachir is the beginning of corruption in that agency (PINE). The system made it possible for this kind of looting. It is not just about Babachir. It is a systemic problem that must be tackled. It also calls for stringent oversight.”
All the recommendations made by the senator Shehu Sani-led Ad hoc committee were adopted, without any single voice of dissent.That report recommended, among others, that “Lawal, having contravened the provision of Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (As amended); the Public Procurement Act 2007 and breached the Oaths of Office as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, should be prosecuted by the relevant authorities.”
The panel also recommended further investigation by relevant agencies of government on why contract benefitting companies paid over N500 million into Rholavision Engineering Limited, a company in which Lawal has interest.
Other recommendations of the committee’s report include: “That the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) should undertake a revaluation of all such contracts to recover any proceeds from over-inflated contracts.”
The Sani committee also asked that all resources that have been misapplied or stolen by public officials should be retrieved and anybody found culpable of contravening any of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and the Federal Government Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to the award of these contracts should be duly prosecuted by relevant authorities.
The committee further informed the Senate that, in view of the confirmation by Central Bank of Nigeria that Lawal owns all the contracting firms (because he owns the Bank Verification Number accounts of all 13 other accounts, the suspended SGF should be prosecuted.
Senators were shocked to learn that, apart from the N270 million for the grass cutting contract, another N200 million spent to hire consultants on grass cutting.
The committee’s report revealed that after receiving payments from PINE, at least, five companies separately paid about N450 million to the Eco Bank account (182001809) of Rholavision Engineering Limited owned by Mr. Lawal as admitted by the Corporate Affairs Affairs Commission (CAC) and his private account (0003004417) with Diamond Bank, as revealed in bank statements.