From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
A faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi has
decision by the Federal Government to suspended Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal and Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke.
The PDP in a statement issued by Prince Dayo Adeyeye, expressed dismay that instead of arresting and detaining Lawal, as it had done to PDP members and other Nigerian accused of corruption, the government merely suspended him.
Lawal and Oke were suspended by the Presidency over allegations of awarding multi-million grass cutting contract under the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE), which his office supervised to companies where he had interests and the discovery of huge sum in foreign and local currencies in a residential apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos, respectively.
“We are alarmed at the suspension of the SGF at a time that Nigerians and the international community are excitedly enjoying the theatre of the absurd playing out with the recovery of huge sums of money without owners.
“Now the APC-led Federal Government suddenly realised the corruption allegation levelled against the SGF and instead of arresting and detaining him as the government has been doing to PDP members and other Nigerians, he was rather suspended and a committee set-up to investigate him. This is to say the least, double standard.”
PDP said only an independent commission of inquiry made up of Nigerians with proven integrity, rather than “Cabinet members” could undertake an impartial investigation into the allegations.
The Federal Government raised a three-man panel headed by Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, which also has the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Abubakar Malami and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno to investigate the matter
But PDP claimed the Osinbajo panel would not do justice to the issue.
Besides, it faulted the inclusion of the AGF, who had earlier cleared Lawal in the grass-cutting saga, in the investigative panel.
The statement read in part: “We are at a loss why the president would set up a panel comprising members of his cabinet to investigate other senior and very powerful members of the same executive. Where is the transparency in that? Not that we doubt the integrity of the Vice President (or whom we have the utmost respect) and other panelists but it appears the matter is being settled within the government closet without the transparency, independence and impartiality necessary in a situation like this. Justice must not only be done it must be seen to have been done.
“This is especially important given the fact that we recently travelled this road when the President asked the Attorney General to investigate the SGF (on this same matter) and the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). That investigation cleared the SGF of all wrong doings in the grass cutting scandal. It is amazing that the President who swiftly accepted the recommendations of the Attorney General would now suddenly set up another panel comprising the same Attorney General to investigate the matter again.
“The pertinent question is whether the President has now realised that the initial investigation by the Attorney General was not thorough or a cover up to protect a fellow cabinet member. If that is the case then, the President needs to come clean with Nigerians by formally repudiating and rejecting the report. He must then tell Nigerians why the author of such a dastardly, useless and worthless report should be included in the new panel.
“Against this backdrop, we are constrained to express our lack of confidence in the new panel headed by the Vice President. Instead we demand an independent commission of inquiry comprising eminent Nigerians of proven records of integrity, independence and competence. This is the only way by which we can have confidence that a thorough and impartial investigation will be conducted and by which the President also can reassure the general public that there are no sacred cows in his government for whom there are different set of rules. The present situation amounts to the government being the judge in its own cause. We do not believe that justice can be served that way.”