Ghost companies awarded contracts, says Sani
From Fred Itua, Abuja
Twenty four hours after the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal, told senators he would not honour an invitation extended to him by the Senate ad-hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East, he has made a U-turn.
Instead of standing by his earlier position not to honour the invitation, the SGF has begged the Senator Shehu Sani-led committee members to reschedule the meeting for a latter date, claiming that there was “a pressing engagement of government, which clashed with the date and time of the hearing.”
Lawal had, in a letter, dated March 22, 2017 and addressed to the committee, through its chairman, Senator Sani, said he would not appear before the committee.
In the letter, he explained that he had already gone to court to challenge the committee’s invitation.
According to the earlier letter from the committee inviting the SGF, he was expected to appear, as part of the ongoing investigation into claims that funds earmarked for humanitarian crisis in the North-East were mismanaged.
The letter from the adhoc committee read: “The Senate, at its sitting on 4th October, 2016, debated on a motion, “Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East” after which an ad-hoc committee was constituted.
“The committee was to conduct a public hearing in order to ascertain how much has been released to the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) and also to ascertain how these funds have been utilised from inception to date.
“The committee was also expected to investigate the diversion of grains and other food items from the Strategic Grain Reserves, NEMA and other sources for the IDPs. “Consequently, the committee held a three-day public hearing between December 6th and 8th 2016, even though some of the invited stakeholders refused to attend.”
Lawal, in the new letter, did not make any reference to the suit he claimed to have filed in a law court.
Part of the new letter reads: “I wish to kindly request that you (Sani) draw the attention of the other members of the committee that l will not be able to appear before the committee. I kindly request a rescheduling of the hearing, please.”
Senator Sani, while reacting to the issue, yesterday, told journalists that more than half of the 20 companies, which were awarded contracts by the office of the SGF, have no verifiable addresses. He said they were ghost companies.
According to him, the adhoc committee will fix a new date, which will be convenient for every party involved in the ongoing investigation, saying the public hearing cannot be concluded without the appearance of the SGF, since his office awarded the said contracts. (The Sun)