• Uncertainty trails Osinbajo’s report on $43m cash, SGF
By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Molly Kilete, Abuja and Chinelo Obogo, Lukman Olabiyi
Fifty-eight days after he returned to Nigeria from a 49-day medical vacation in London, yesterday night, President Muhammadu Buhari is back in the United Kingdom.
He is in London for “medical check-up,” said his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina.
On January 19, 2017, the president transmitted a letter to the National Assembly, where he transferred power to his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in compliance with section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
He returned to Nigeria on March 10, 2017, after speculations about his health status.
On arrival, the president told Nigerians he had never been that sick, to the point of needing blood transfusion. Buhari also declared he would return for medical check up.
Yesterday, after meeting the 82 freed Chibok girls, behind closed doors, the president left for London.
How long he will be away for, will be determined by the doctors,” said Adesina in a statement.
The presidential aide also added that his boss has already transmitted letters about the trip to the Senate and the House of Representatives, in compliance with section 145 (1), with another formal transfer of power to Osinbajo.
“The president wishes to assure all Nigerians that there is no cause for worry. He is very grateful for the prayers and good wishes of the people, and hopes they would continue to pray for the peace and unity of the nation.
“The length of the president’s stay in London will be determined by the doctors. Government will continue to function normally under the able leadership of the Vice President…” Adesina’s statement said.
Meanwhile, uncertainty trails Osinbajo’s submission of a report on investigation of $43 million found in an apartment at No. 16, Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Buhari had mandated a three-man Presidential Investigative Committee, chaired by Osinbajo, with National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno and Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Shehu Malami, as members, to investigate the discovery of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and allegations of due process violations in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE),
The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) claimed ownership of the money which it said was for “covert operations.”
But, EFCC insisted at the weekend that no one has come forward to claim the money, just as it declared in court, last Friday, that wife of suspended NIA Director General, Ayo Oke, Folashade, bought the house where the money was warehoused.
Osinbajo’s panel was also expected to submit a report on its investigation of corrupt allegations against suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal.
Lawal was accused by a Senate panel of awarding grass-cutting contracts, valued at over N500 million, at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the North East to his companies, when he chaired PINE.
The committee had, at its first meeting grilled Oke for about 10 hours while Lawal met with the three-man committee for about two hours.
The committee was also at liberty to invite any private or public official linked to the allegations.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emiefele, was one of those who appeared before the committee.
Buhari’s departure to London, yesterday night has now thrown spanners in Osinbajo’s report submission.
The vice president was scheduled to present the report to his boss, today, after the committee failed to do so last Wednesday.
With Buhari away to London, will Osinbajo submit the report to himself since he was also chairman of the panel?
To Prof. Gbenga Ojo, of the Faculty of Law, Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, composition of Osinbajo’s panel does not have any moral or legal sense.”
He said Buhari’s government has many things to cover up.
“This government is dancing naked in the public, in the fight against corruption.”
Prof. Ojo added the panel was not properly constituted and that “the whole exercise was an insult on the intelligence of Nigerians; it was not proper for the Executive to investigate the Executive.
“Osibanjo, Lawal, Malami are all members of the executive arm of government. How can they investigate themselves? It is not proper for an executive member to be investigating another executive member indicted for corruption.
“If they really want us to believe them, they should allow the Chief Justice of Nigeria to appoint a retired judge with a credible character to head the committee. The Inspector General of Police should also allowed to appoint a retired senior police officer with track record of integrity as a member of the committee…”
Meanwhile, former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has urged Nigerians to stop speculating about Buhari’s health.
In a statement he personally signed, yesterday, shortly before the president jetted out to London, Tinubu said when the president returned from his medical vacation in March, he openly said he would abide by the advice of his doctors by getting some rest, and as such, there was no need to speculate on the state of his health.
He said despite the challenges facing the country, president Buhari has proven to be capable in the way he has handled insecurity in the country and the fight against corruption.
Tinubu said Buhari’s policies have begun to bear fruit, stressing that the country is moving out of recession to the long-term reshaping of the national economy.
“Given the complex problems he has faced, president Buhari has done well in a tough situation. While I seek not to diminish the hardship still faced by many of our people, we also must be cognisant of the important progress made these past two years.
“President Buhari has moved us from the path of failure to a path where we have a fighting chance to realise a better nation. Had we stuck to the ways of the former administration, our present situation would be worse than untenable.
“Those who publicly speculate about the issue of the president’s health must keep all of these in mind. Much is at stake. We owe a responsibility to be wise and circumspect in what is spoken into the public ear.”
The former Lagos State governor also added that “many people have openly speculated about the president’s health. Some have done so for their own selfish reasons. These people shall be found out in time. There are many who have done so out of sincere concern for the president. These people should not be condemned for their heartfelt concern. However, they should be advised not to allow fear to ambush their better judgment and their courage. They should not give themselves to idle speculation.
“Those who truly care about the president and the important work he still must do should not allow themselves to become the unwitting tools of these regressive forces.
“We must stand with and beside our president. The unfounded speculation around his health should stop.
“We must not covet fear and rumor, but should engage our creativity and enterprise to help the president accomplish his historic mission.”