It’s pure vendetta -Lawal
We’re not aware-APC
By Taiwo Amodu, Romanus Ugwu and Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate has called for the suspension of the Secretary to the Federal Government, Mr David Babachir Lawal over what it described as gross abuse of office.
The apex legislative assembly also wants Lawal prosecuted for allegedly violating the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and the Federal Government Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to the award of contracts.
The Senate took the resolution yesterday following an interim report of its Ad hoc Committee on North-East Humanitarian Crisis which indicted the SGF.
Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Senator Shehu Sani, who presented the report during plenary, accused the SGF of using his office to enrich himself.
He said the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE) took undue advantage of the provision of emergency situation contract award in the Public Procurement Act, 2007 to inflate contracts.
Sani said: “Contracts were awarded to companies belonging to top government officials’ cronies, family members and close associates. For example, Rholavision Engineering Limited, incorporated in 1990 with RC No. 159855 at the Corporate Affairs Commission, Abuja, to carry out information and communication technology services, a company anchored by the SGF, was awarded consultancy contract for the removal of the invasive plant species in Yobe State on March 8, 2016.
“Although Lawal resigned the directorship of the said company in September, 2016, it is on record that he is still the signatory to accounts of the company. About 95 to 100 percent payments of all contracts awarded by PINE has been paid even as some contracts are yet to be fully executed.
“For instance, payment of N108 million for the supply of 1,100 units of temporary tarpaulin carbines at N302,000:00 per unit was made to Dantex Nigeria Limited despite the fact that 125 units valued at N37.7 million were yet to be supplied.”
Sani lamented over the plight of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), both in camps and within host communities.
“There are hunger, disease, squalor, deprivation and want in lDPs’ camps. This observation is corroborated by a statement accredited to the United Nations’ Deputy Coordinator of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Mr. Peter Lundberg to the effect that ”a projected 5.1 million people will face serious food shortages as the (Boko Haram) conflict and risk of unexploded improvised devices prevented farmers from planting for the third year in a row, causing a major food crisis in the North-East,” he said.
He regretted non-availability of Federal Government’s health workers in almost all the camps visited.
“Despite claims by some federal government agencies to the effect that huge sum of money is being spent on lDPs in the North-East, what is on ground does not reflect the claims.
“For example, over 70 percent of displaced children, both in camps and host communities, were out of schools due to lack of classroom infrastructure, inadequate teaching materials and even teachers. “Generally, there was acute shortage of food. In one of the lDPs camp visited, three 50kg bags of rice each, a 50kg bag of beans and four litres of palm oil were given to 30 people for 15 days. These were considered too insufficient as confirmed by many lDPs that interacted with the Committee.”
In their separate contributions, lawmakers lampooned the SGF and backed the position of the interim report which called for the suspension and prosecution of Lawal.
Senator Dino Melaye alleged that Lawal did not resign as a director of a company which handled some contracts in the North-East despite his appointment as SGF.
“The SGF rushed to the Corporate Affairs Commission in September only when the Senate started investigating him. He awarded a contract to his company where he is a signatory. The SGF has exhibited anti-Buhari tendencies.
“This is gross abuse of office. I call for his immediate resignation and after that, he should be prosecuted. It is time to call a spade a spade. It is time for the Senate President to act,” Melaye said.
Senator Isa Hamman Misau accused the SGF of refusing to sanction board appointments of over 2,000. He also alleged that potential board appointees were already bribing some government officials to get soft landing.
Senator Adeola Solomon noted that the SGF’s testimony to the committee “was not in tandem with the documents we had. This is just the interim report. What we have now is just the face value. The companies were only created for the award of these contracts.”
Senator Matthew Urhoghide called for a proper position on the issue of IDPs in the North-East.
“This Senate is in a position to correct some of these things that are happening. We must bring those involved in this to book,” he said.
Senate Leader, Ali Ndume called for a detailed report on the matter before the Senate can take a decision on SGF.
“This is an interim report. If we have a report that is interim, what decision can we take? Why can’t we wait till the full report is ready,” Ndume suggested.
He was, however, booed and Saraki quickly intervened, saying “when we get there, we will look at the issue and do the right thing.”
Saraki thanked the committee “for coming out with this daring infractions that are commendable. I hope the relevant agencies will take note of the recommendations.”
“The message from the Senate is that business cannot continue as usual. Those who contravene the relevant acts must be prosecuted. This government that is seen to be fighting corruption must not cover up this fraud. We must do something about it,” Saraki said.
In his reaction last night, the SGF, Babachir Lawal accused the Senate of vendetta and a plot to nail him.
“I can recognise a vendetta and witch-hunt when I see one; so, I am wondering if I should bother myself about it at all. You may wish to know that I was never invited to the hearing. Apparently, the Senate has an agenda best known to its leaders. “Corruption is fighting to drag all good men down to its muddy, slimy level.”
Meanwhile, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said it has not been formally notified about the call by the Senate for Lawal’s resignation “We cannot react on the issue now because the party has not been formally notified…”
on the development,” the Acting National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi told Daily Sun in a telephone chat last night.