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It’s Not Compulsory North Must Return Power To South In 2023 – Babachir Lawal Ex-SGF

THE immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, has given a graphic picture of how the Governor of Adamawa State, Jibrilla Bindow, betrayed President Muhammadu Buhari which led to the poor performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state during the presidential and governorship elections.

Lawal said Bindow, right from the onset, pitched tent with the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Al- haji Atiku Abubakar, who Bindow believed, sponsored his governorship in 2015.

Lawal said: “Part of what led to this out- come was a historical position that the government of Bindow had on several occasions publicly declared that their government was a government of Atiku. It is on record that in so many fora, his supporters, his henchmen had said it in his presence and he didn’t take any step to deny it.”

Lawal also dwelt on the 2023 presidency, saying that the constitution did not say that power must leave the North in 2023, even as he said every part of the country was qualified to produce a president for the country. Among other issues, Lawal opened up on the issue of marginalization by the Igbo under President Buhari in the sharing of National Assembly leadership positions, declaring that the agitation by the Igbo is genuine, but the basis defective. He spoke more on these and others in this interview with AID- OGHIE PAULINUS in Abuja.

What went wrong that the APC didn’t win the presidential and governorship election in Adamawa State despite big names like you, General Buba Marwa (retd), wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, Mr Boss Mustapha, Governor Bindow, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and others?

I don’t know. We tried our best. Big names don’t mean big votes. We went into this election as a divided party in the state. It has been so for almost two years and you would recall that most of the so-called big names you mentioned had protested the way and manner the party was being run.

By who?

By the governor who hijacked the party structure and his loyalists and which we said was being run wrongly. And we had protested this over and over. I led several delegations to the national party chairman with some of these members you just said in the group, to complain about the manner the congresses were being organised. So, we were doing this being mindful of the fact that the presidential candidate of the PDP is an indigene of Adamawa State; a man who at one time won the governorship election of the state before he migrated to become the vice president of the country. This is by no means a small position, and obviously, would have some supporters in the state. And he will be, maybe not desperate, but he will deploy enormous resources to see that at least, he wins his state. This is the norm in every country where politics like ours is being played. So, it is not therefore surprising that the president didn’t win, but he didn’t lose either because the margin was very small and it is thanks to the combined efforts of these people you have mentioned that we were able to reduce the margin to what people call almost insignificant level.

Who do you blame for this defeat? The national chairman or…?

The national chairman doesn’t vote in Adamawa State.

 

Because you said that you led several delegations and nothing was done…

It is not a matter of blame. In the end, it is the decision of the voter as to how to cast his own vote. And obviously, if a party goes into an election factionalised, the message to the voter will not be unitary and therefore, probably, even demoralising to the rank and file of the party. So, the zeal to mobilise the voters to vote might not be that much. It is not about blame. It is about the voter in Adamawa State deciding to vote where his heart is.

On the presidential election, do you have evidence to say that Governor Bin- dow worked for Atiku rather than President Buhari?

Part of what led to this outcome was a historical position that the government of Bindow had on several occasions publicly declared that their government was a government of Atiku. It is on record that in so many fora, his supporters, his henchmen had said it in his presence and he didn’t take any step to deny it. I remember at one of their road launching somewhere in Adamawa State, the then-led Chief of Staff, made a long speech in which he insisted that Adamawa State Government was for Atiku. Now, we did also point out the fact that the governor himself had claimed that it was Atiku’s money that facilitated his victory at the polls. He had said that on several occasions. We have also had cause to protest that in Bindow’s government, there were about seven serving com- missioners who were very close to Atiku, including his own daughter. Without regard to their merit as qualified indigenes, but I mean, their political inclinations in normal politics will disqualify them from participating in an APC government. But the governor didn’t think so.

Why didn’t he lean on the Atiku’s backing to win the governorship election?

You see, in a democracy of our type, I

think the person that got this very, very well was the president who admonished the voters to vote for candidates of their choice. In my previous interview with you, I did mention that in 2015, we propagated the principle of APC. That is, from top to bottom, APC, on our understanding that the president would need such a cohesive team to perform. But to our dismay, as the political drama was play- ing out, it was in fact, the APC legislators that were fighting the government to a standstill. So, it didn’t make sense, therefore, to repeat the same principle in which just because somebody is in APC, vote for him whereas as we have seen, they ended up being the most vociferous enemies of the president.

Sir, is that not a kind of anti-party statement?

At 63 years old in a country like Nigeria with about 90 political parties, am not afraid of pitching my tent with any political party. I mean, if as an individual, if by chance or by mistake, somebody gets the APC ticket and decides not to follow the APC manifesto and decides not to do some developmental goals in line with the APC constitution, in line with the APC manifesto, I don’t think it makes sense for my state to continue to be a state of underdevelopment. It is a state of penury, so I can’t continue to support somebody just because he says we are in the same political party. It is not religion. Political party is not religion. Even in religion, people do change faith.

Is there any agreement with Fintiri, maybe he will join APC later?

I don’t know much about Fintiri. I first came into contact with Fintiri when he was Speaker and was working to impeach Governor Nyako, the then APC governor decampee. And I was one of those the party assigned the responsibility of working to frustrate the impeachment. It was at that time I first heard of his name and subsequently, told to frustrate that impeachment process.

But I was not likely to do so. After that of course, he later became acting governor for three months or less than three months. But I am not a state party man.

Can APC ever rise again in Adamawa?

Definitely! Part of the consequences of what has happened is APC trying to rebrand itself in our state. And definitely, we will learn our lessons from what has happened in the last four years. We will rebuild our party, we will reorganise our party with the belief that even those in our party who probably misadvise the governor or probably advised him wrongly whether deliberately or not, would have learned their lesson and will now be able to rebuild a party that am sure definitely, we will reclaim our mandate in 2023. This I am very sure of.

With the struggle for leadership positions in the 9th National Assembly, do you fear that the APC might lose control of the legislature like it did in 2015?

APC didn’t lose the legislature in 2015. Obviously, those who emerged as leaders, except one, were APC members. It was just the candidates themselves that were a dis- appointment to the government. They per- formed in a way that bears that out. Now, I am not a senator, I don’t have votes in the National Assembly. I believe majority of the senators in this 9th Assembly are people that are matured, grandparents, experienced in politics and have learnt their lessons from what happened in 2015. And my expectation is that they will try to avoid those pitfalls and choose leaders that are APC in nature, APC in party, APC in conviction and committed to the manifesto of the party and committed to support the government to succeed, a gov- ernment in which they are a part because the National Assembly is part of the government.

There are concerns that only the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole and APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are the two people pulling the strings in the party. Do you agree that the party has been hijacked by powerful forces ahead of 2023?

Truly, if they pull strings, those strings do not include my own tail. I don’t know what strings they are pulling. As I have just told you, as I have learnt from Adamawa State, and which I continue to say, getting the nomination of the party to contest election is a completely different ball game from the general election because the electorates have their own minds and they have their own PVC and it is not a colony owned. It is one man, one PVC and one vote.

There are insinuations that the North may not cede power to the South in 2023. Do you believe this?

I don’t attend any meeting in which a so called north takes decisions. If there is such an organization that takes those decisions, they don’t invite me. For obvious reasons, I am a democrat and I believe every part of Nigeria has qualified candidates for the presidential. Every part of Nigeria! Indeed, I don’t see why the… even if it is in the north, if we say the Northwest has produced a presidential candidate, the Southwest had produced one, I don’t see why the North Central can- not produce or the Northeast cannot produce just as South-South, Southeast, Southwest and even Northwest can still produce. The constitution doesn’t say it is prohibited. And as I said, I believe every zone, every state, has capable people that can run this country effectively.

Do you believe in the principle that deputies should always succeed their principals like Osinbajo succeeding Buhari in 2023?

It is not in the constitution, so it is not a principle. Principle of what? It is not in APC constitution, it is not in the national constitution, it is not in the Bible, I don’t know whether it is in the Koran; I don’t know. So, I don’t see how it became a principle.

From the way you are sounding, you are speaking as if in 2023, there is no hope for the southerners at all?

When I said every area can produce a president, where do you get this conclusion? I just said every part of Nigeria can produce a president, a competent one. I know so many. Being a cosmopolitan man, I know Igbos not less than ten that can successfully run this country; I know Yorubas that can do, I know Ijaws that can do, I know Hausas that can do, I know even Kilba. Hey myself, my friend, I can be president of this country. I consider myself quite competent to do so from a small tribe of 300,000 people. There are so many such tribes that can produce good, competent leaders all over Nigeria.

For the second time, the Southeast is already shouting of marginalization under Buhari in the sharing of National Assembly leadership positions. Do you think their complaint is genuine?

Personal to me, their complaint is genuine, but their basis is defective.

How do you mean Sir?

I keep telling you I am not a member of the National Assembly. But my understand- ing of their rules is that you must be a rank- ing member. That is to say you must have been a member before, and therefore, has knowledge of how the place operates. But if the goodwill is there, somebody must begin somewhere. I mean, if the goodwill is there and the desire to unite the country and make everybody feel a sense of belonging is there, you can bend over backward, modify the rules and even a green horn can take one of the leadership positions. However, be that as it may, it is also true that in a political party contest, those who delivered the votes are en- titled to the perks of the office.

But in this case, the Southeast even has a ranking lawmaker.

The Southeast?

Yes. Dr Orji Uzor Kalu was in the House of Representatives and now going to the Sen- ate. He is a ranking lawmaker.

Yeah. I didn’t know that. He was in the House?

Yes

And he was a governor.

Yes. And he was a governor. Is he not eminently qualified?

He is qualified. Maybe not eminently, but he is qualified. Maybe not eminently, but he is your boss. He is qualified.

Why are you removing the eminently?

Because as I said, the qualification criteria is subjective. If you like, you can say hey, how are you going to give the Senate President to Abia in which the president didn’t get much votes, the people don’t believe in the APC and they believe in a different political party that lost? So, how do you dissuade the worries and the feeling of marginalization by those who overwhelmingly voted for the party? These are the reasons why they voted for the party and they are entitled to the perks of the office, the benefits of the office be- cause they delivered the votes. Without the mandate of the overwhelming votes of those people, we would not have won the election. So, that is why I am saying that on the face of political party system, those who delivered the votes are entitled more to rewards of their votes. Those who delivered few votes are still entitled to, but in principle, the minimum constitutional requirements. But if the good will is there, why not? You can bend over backward and say hey, these are our brothers. You can still give it to them.

Don’t you think by giving the position of Senate President to the Southeast, it will win more followers to the APC?

This type of thing, you know they say I am too troublesome. But you see, the APC has won presidential election. Even in spite of the minimal votes it got from the South-east, it still won. The APC, as it is, you have to go like searching for a needle through a haystack to be able to find one elected per- son from the APC in the Southeast. And there are zones that have hundreds of elected members. So, you want to jump them where you have people and people where you can choose from and go and start…?

Should it be done on that basis?

I don’t think you heard me. I think you have a preconceived mind. You want your boss to be Senate President. I don’t mind, he is my friend. We are not discussing personalities, but if you want us to do… Uzor Kalu is my friend and among all those contesting for this thing, I think he is the closest to me. But I am pointing out the realities to you, the realities of politics. I don’t say ok, let me give you the presidency so that you can vote for

me. Vote for me and then you get what you are looking for. It has always been the case with the Southeast. They go their own way which they are entitled to doing and then they come round and say marginalization in an election in which they marginalised themselves. They marginalised themselves in this election. They went for PDP which lost. No-body forced them to vote PDP. But they lost. So, that is politics. Politics is a game of risk. You lose, you sit down and watch through the window when people are chopping on the dining table. So, they shouldn’t blame anybody on marginalization.

How do you assess the Buhari government on its three point agenda in the last four years and what do you think should be done differently in the second term?

It is an unfair statement because for two years, I was an active member of the government; the Secretary to the Government which people say is the engine room of the government. So, to ask me how we have per- formed is like asking a mother whether her son is smart.

What is next for you politically? Are you looking at the presidency in 2023?

I, B.D. Lawal, joined politics in 2003. I joined politics in the Buhari political structure to contribute my quota and effort towards making Buhari president. In 2003, my goals, my ambitions were not achieved. In 2007, it wasn’t. In 2011, it wasn’t. But in 2015, God gave us what we have always been looking for patiently and doggedly. Now, by the constitution of Nigeria, President Buhari can only be president for two tenures, two terms and by the grace of God, He has made the second tenure possible. Buhari has won the election. So, to that extent, as far as I am concerned, God has been kind to me, He has helped me achieve my ambition in politics.

Are you saying that you are done?

As far as I am concerned, my principal, primary goal of joining politics has been achieved.

 

So, every other thing is addition?

 

Every other thing is a hobby.

 

 

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New SGF, Boss Mustapha, Is Babachir Lawal’s Cousin, Says Junaid Mohammed

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                         Boss Mustapha

Our correspondents

A member of the House of Representatives during the Second Republic, Dr Junaid Muhammed, has revealed that the newly appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, is a first cousin to Babachir Lawal.

“Before you begin to celebrate the appointment of Boss Mustapha as the new SGF, do you know that he is in fact, Babachir Lawal’s first cousin? This is a continuation of the cronyism and nepotism the Buhari-led administration has become infamous for,” Muhammed told one of our correspondents.

But even as many Nigerians lament the failure of the President to direct further actions on the sacked officials, the All Progressives Congress has said Buhari’s sacking of the two officials couldn’t have come at a better time than now.

Related: [Update] Finally, Buhari Fires Suspended SGF, NIA Boss |The Republican News

APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said, “Few days ago, when the President directed the dismissal of Abdulrasheed Maina, some people said that was right but what about the suspended SGF, BD Lawal? But we as a party said look, the President is the only person who has all the information. All of us can only have one side of the story or the other.

“But the President by the virtue of the position he occupies is the only one who has all the information and he would do what is necessary at the right time, now we have been vindicated and it shows that the President has not in any way waived his commitment not to tolerate corruption at any level no matter who is involved.”

Related: Buhari Knew Of Maina’s Reinstatement, I Warnd Him – HoS In Leaked Memo |RN

Similarly, the Arewa Consultative Forum applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for sacking Lawal and Oke. In its reaction to the development, the ACF through the National Publicity Secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim Biu, said, “The action taken by President Buhari on the report submitted by the Osinbajo Committee that investigated the suspended SGF and the DG NIA is appropriate and timely.”     (Punch)

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No Immunity For Babachir, Oke, Says Garba Shehu |The Republican News

Former SGF, Babachir Lawal

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu says President Muhammadu Buhari will not stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from its investigation against Babachir Lawal and Ayo Oke, who were relieved of their appointments.

Shehu, who stated on Monday in Abuja, said President Buhari had taken the necessary administrative action against the two officials.

President Buhari, had on Oct. 30, approved the appointment of Boss Mustapha as the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), and terminated the appointment of the suspended SGF, Babachir Lawal.

The President, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, also approved the termination of the appointment of the suspended Director-General National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Amb. Ayo Oke.

The presidential aide said: “”The President has taken the administrative action. All other actions will be taken by relevant government agencies.

““The position of the President, therefore, is that investigative agencies, which have already commenced the investigation of the two officers removed from office, will go on with their work of investigation without any interference or hindrance.’’

According to Shehu, President Buhari is fully conversant with the provisions of the constitution and will not stop the investigation of anyone “because he has no such power under our laws, adding this is a decision of the Supreme Court.

“”The President under our laws can, through the Attorney General enter a nolle prosequi to stop an on-going trial. He may upon conviction, order a pardon.

“”Beyond these, the president cannot order investigation agencies to not investigate anyone and does not intend to do so in this, or any other circumstance.

”Based on his wish and desire for a strict observance of the law, the President expects the EFCC, ICPC and such agencies to proceed with ongoing investigations..

”When and where they have reasonable grounds to charge former or serving officers to court under our laws, they do not require the permission of the President to do so.’’(NAN)

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Grass-cutting Probe: Contracts Awarded To 20 ‘Ghost’ Firms, Says Senate Panel

senate

The Senate

Eniola Akinkuotu and  Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The Senate, on Thursday, said it had not been able to trace the addresses of about 20 contractors engaged for the execution of various projects in the rehabilitation of the North-East.

An investigative hearing by the Senate on the alleged management of funds meant for the rehabilitation of the North-East, billed to hold on Thursday, had been botched by the non-appearance of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal.

The Chairman, Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, Senator Shehu Sani, said the probe was not a witch-hunt against the SGF, whose office oversees the Presidential Initiative on the North-East.

He said this while addressing journalists after the plenary on Thursday, following a meeting with the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang.

Sani said, “Now, we are set to invite all those persons. It was supposed to be today but, unfortunately, it could not happen.

“Meanwhile, you should understand that we are not investigating the SGF alone; we are investigating contracts that were awarded under the PINE. And over 20 companies were involved, but something very strange is the fact that some of these companies involved in these contracts, we cannot actually trace their addresses.

“We went there but they were not there. The option before us is to either report that they are ghost companies or we keep on searching until we find them. But it is most likely that it will be easier for the camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for us to find some of these names here.”

Enang, who also spoke to journalists, said there was no rift between the legislature and the executive.

He stated, “Let me also state that the executive has great respect for the institution of the Senate and the distinguished senators themselves.

“That is why the secretary to the government personally wrote and signed, and he is requesting rescheduling of the meeting and not saying he will not come. He is requesting rescheduling and the letter has been delivered to the committee.”

When asked about the recent frosty relationship between the two arms of government, Enang said the relationship had remained cordial.

Sani had earlier at the plenary, on Thursday, stated that the panel would pursue its mandate to a conclusion, insisting that Lawal and others summoned must appear before it.

He added that the panel received a letter from Lawal in which the SGF said he had an official engagement with clashed with the date and time of his appearance on Thursday.

Sani said the letter was different from the one in which Lawal said he would not appear before the lawmakers as he had instituted a legal action against the legislature.

He said, “We were scheduled to hold a public hearing today to give a second opportunity to those persons who were either deliberately or conspicuously absent in the first sitting (hearing) we had last year.

“Today, the newspapers were awash with reports that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, has taken us to court to restrain our committee from doing its work.

“We have yet to receive any court order (originating summons) in that respect, perhaps later. But what we did receive is a letter from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.”

The letter was dated March 22, 2017, and was addressed to Sani.

It read, “Your letter of invitation to appear before the above committee refers.

“I wish to kindly request that you draw the attention of the other members of the committee that l will not be able to appear before the committee primarily because of a pressing engagement of government which clash with the date and time of the hearing.

“I kindly request (a) rescheduling of the hearing, please.”

After reading the letter, Sani added, “There are people who believe in the quote of Shakespeare which says, ‘The hell is empty, all the devils are here’, but I will say it in another word. The same Shakespeare says, ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men’. I believe we should take this as a challenge.

“The Senate committee will give a new date for hearing and we assure this Senate and the people of the North-East that the committee will deworm, disinfect and fumigate the north eastern part of Nigeria with the job which we are going to do.”

Lawal had, in the first letter to the committee, said he would not appear before it on Thursday as he had filed processes in a court.

The letter, which was sighted on Wednesday, read, “Your letter of invitation to appear before the above committee refers.

“I wish to kindly request that you draw the attention of the other members of the committee (to the fact) that I will not be able to appear before the committee primarily because I have gone to court to challenge the invitation, among others.

“Please, find attached the court documents.”

The committee had re-invited Lawal to appear before it on Thursday in a letter signed by Sani, dated March 15, 2017, and addressed to Lawal’s Kaduna address.

Sani had told our correspondent that the panel intended to give the SGF a second chance.

Based on the interim report of the committee, the Senate had, on December 14, 2016, called for the resignation, probe and prosecution of the SGF for alleged mismanagement of funds meant for the North-East rehabilitation under his watch.

The lawmakers specifically called on security and anti-graft agencies to arrest and prosecute Lawal for allegedly owning one of the companies awarded contracts in the rehabilitation of the North-East.

Lawal was alleged to have resigned his directorship of the company after becoming the SGF and after the company had executed the contract.

One of the companies linked to the SGF was said to have been awarded the contract for the removal of invasive plants along river channels and 115 hectares of simplified village irrigation operation in Yobe State for the sum of N272,524,356.

But Lawal claimed that the panel did not invite him to hear from him, saying the lawmakers were out to malign him.

The companies include Rholavision Engineering Limited, Josmond Technology Limited, Medina International Global Limited, Muby Ventures Nigeria Limited and JMT.

Trend, end of democracy in Nigeria –Senate

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, told our correspondent he was not aware of the letter.

He, however, posited that the trend of public officials refusing to answer legislative summons was becoming a threat to Nigeria’s democracy.

Abdullahi said, “I am not aware of that. But we are waiting to see what happens. That is exactly what we are saying; that if this continues to happen, then, bye-bye to democracy. It means I can even go to court to stop you (our correspondent) from doing your work.”

Senate empowered to order SGF’s arrest if he fails to appear –Falana

Meanwhile, sources within the Office of the SGF told one of our correspondents on Thursday that the Senate’s actions were prejudicial.

A senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The Senate is on a witch-hunt because the SGF had questioned the practice of lawmakers receiving constituency allowances. It seems they are just bent on tarnishing his image despite the fact that the President has cleared him of any wrongdoing.

“These senators have failed to go to the North-East to do a proper investigation of the work that was done. Why can’t they visit the place? Let them go there and see for themselves if the money spent on the place was exaggerated instead of casting aspersions on the SGF.

“The SGF’s former company did not execute any contract but merely supervised the work done by contractors. The company never received any N200m.”

However, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), advised Lawal to appear before the Senate without delay.

Falana said no court in Nigeria could stop the Senate from doing its job as the case was different from that of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.).

He said, “The investigation being conducted by the Shehu Sani committee into the grass-cutting contract is backed by Section 88(2) of the constitution. So the SGF is constitutionally required to appear and cooperate fully with the committee.

“If he fails to appear, the committee is competent to order his arrest pursuant to Section 89 of the constitution. This case is materially distinguishable from that of the CGC of Customs, who was invited to justify a policy on import duty.”  (Punchng.com)

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BREAKING: I Will Shut Down Buhari’s Government, If Aso Rock Cabal Gets Too Arrogant-Saraki Spits Fire

Bukola-Saraki

Senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki

I will shut down Buhari’s government in 72 hours, if Aso cabal pushes me to the wall with their arroagance and disobdience towards the rules and legislators, an infuriated senate president Dr Bukola Saraki spits fire.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has reacted to the letter written by Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, to the Senate Committee on the Humanitarian Crisis in North-East.
 
Saraki, who spoke through the Senate Spokesman, Sabi Abdullahi, stated that Lawal’s letter stating that he would not appear before the Senate Committee, because he had gone to court to challenge his invitation, implied that the Legislature can equally go to court to stop the entire government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, from working.
 
Recall, that the refusal of the SGF to appear before the Senate, came barely a few hours when the Customs Comptroller-General, Hammed Ali, had also declined to appear before the Senate, claiming that it would be subjudice for him to return to the Senate in uniform, since a Legal Practitioner had asked the Federal High Court, Abuja, to restrain the National Assembly from compelling him to wear uniform in the performance of his duties.
 
According to the Senate Spokesman, Nigeria’s democracy was heading towards total destruction, because of the refusal of the cabals in Aso Rock to honour Legislative summons.
 
Saraki said: “We are performing our constitutional mandate, and if anybody is going to court to stop us, then what it means is that we should all go to court and stop the entire government from working.
 
“That is exactly what we are saying; that if this (refusal to honour Legislative summons) continues to happen, then goodbye to democracy. It means I can even go to court to stop you from doing your work.
 
“We will see how that will continue to play out, and I think this is the end of democracy in Nigeria if that continues to play out.”
 
Is this what APC plan to do when they promised ‘change’?
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Democracy Under Threat As SGF Shuns Invitation, Says Senate

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The Senate

Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The Senate on Wednesday raised the alarm that the failure of the executive to answer legislative summons would end democracy in the country.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, stated this in an interview with The PUNCH, while reacting to a letter written by the Secretary to the Government of the  Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal.

The SGF, in the letter to the upper chamber on Wednesday, said he had dragged the Senate to court over a probe into the alleged management of funds meant for the rehabilitation of the North-East.

Lawal, in  the letter to the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, said he would not appear before the probe panel on Thursday (today) as he had filed processes in court. The letter was sighted on Wednesday by our correspondent.

The SGF’s letter came the same day the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), failed to honour the Senate invitation.

The upper chamber had ordered Ali to appear before it on Wednesday (yesterday), in the NCS uniform.

But the Customs boss shunned the invitation, citing a suit filed by a lawyer, Mohammed Ibrahim and advice of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, as reasons.

The PUNCH learnt that the some senators were irked on Wednesday when the Senate received a letter from another member of the executive (the SGF).

When contacted, the Senate spokesman told our correspondent he was not aware of the letter written by the SGF.

He, however, stated that  the trend of public officials refusing to answer legislative summons was becoming a threat to Nigeria’s democracy.

Abdullahi said, “I am not aware of that. But we are waiting to see what happens. That is exactly what we are saying; that if this continues to happen, then, bye bye to democracy. It means I can even go to court to stop you (our correspondent) from doing your work.

“We will see how that will continue to play out and I think this is the end of democracy in Nigeria if that continues to play out. We are performing our constitutional mandate and if anybody is going to court to stop us, then, what it means is that we should all go to court and stop the entire government from working.”

The letter written by the SGF read, “Your letter of invitation to appear before the above committee refers.

“I wish to kindly request that you draw the attention of the other members of the committee (to the fact) that I will not be able to appear before the committee primarily because I have gone to court to challenge the invitation, among others.

“Please, find attached the court documents.”

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Shehu Sani, while confirming the receipt of the letter, declined to disclose what the lawmakers would do to the SGF.

When asked if he had received the letter, he said, “Yes. If you have the letter, that is it. Go and write your story.”

When also asked how he felt about the development, Sani replied, “As far as I am concerned, we are going ahead with the sitting (investigative hearing).”

When further asked if the Senate would react to Lawal’s move as it did to the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.), Sani said the decision would be taken after the hearing.

“I don’t want to comment on that for now. Report what he has done and wait to see what we will do tomorrow (today),” he said.

The committee had invited Lawal to appear before it on Thursday in a letter signed by Sani, dated March 15, 2017, and addressed to Lawal’s Kaduna address.

It read, “The Senate at its sitting on 4th October, 2016, debated on a motion on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the North-East” after which an ad hoc committee was constituted to, among other things, conduct a public hearing in order to ascertain how much has been released to the Presidential Initiative on the North-East; ascertain how these funds have been utilised from inception to date; and 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 6th and 8th December, 2016, even though some of the invited stakeholders refused to attend. In order to give them a fair hearing, the committee has resolved to conduct another public hearing.

“You are hereby invited once more to the public hearing.”

Sani had told our correspondent that the panel intended to give the SGF a second chance.

Based on the interim report of the committee, the Senate had on December 14, 2016, called for the resignation, probe and prosecution of the SGF over alleged mismanagement of funds meant for the North-East rehabilitation under his watch.

The lawmakers specifically called on security and anti-graft agencies to arrest and prosecute Lawal, who is overseeing the Presidential Initiative on North-East, for allegedly owning one of the companies awarded contracts in the rehabilitation of the North-East.

Lawal was alleged to have resigned his directorship of the company after becoming the SGF and after the company had executed the contract.

One of the companies linked to the SGF was said to have been awarded the contract for the removal of invasive plants along river channels and 115 hectares of simplified village irrigation operation in Yobe State for the sum of N272,524,356.

But Lawal claimed that the panel did not invite him for his defence, saying that the lawmakers were out to malign him.

The PUNCH had exclusively reported that the committee on February 1, 2017, had requested  the Bank Verification Numbers of some companies linked to the SGF, who were contracted for various projects on the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons.

It was also reported that the lawmakers might re-invite Lawal for questioning. ‘Punchgn.com)

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Buhari Will Run For Second Term, SGF Hinted |The Republican News

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John Alechenu, Abuja

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, has given a hint of the possibility of President Muhammadu Buhari seeking a second term in 2019.

Lawal gave the hint while addressing a pro-Buhari crowd gathered at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, on Tuesday, at the beginning of a series of protests in support of the President.

He told the crowd that President Buhari feels the pains of Nigerians and was encouraged by the show of support to work to improve their lot.

According to him, the President did not envisage the enormity of the challenges he met on the ground but was doing all within his power to set Nigeria on the path of sustainable growth.

He assured the protesters that the economic difficulties being experienced by Nigerians would disappear within “one year.”

Lawal said, “I’m here to thank you for the support you have been giving to this government. As a government, we are encouraged by your support. It is this type of support that encourages the President to do more.

“We want to assure you that this government is on top of the situation. As much as we understand the challenges that we are facing, there is no cure without medicine.

“It is for no reason that quinine is very bitter, but after you have taken it, you get well. I assure you that by the grace of God, in the next one year, Nigeria will have a booming economy. We know what they were doing to try to sabotage the activities of government to bring Nigeria back to economic prosperity, they will fail.

“Nigeria will never go back to the position it was before 2015. The foundation being laid by the government is solid. And nobody, even after the President has finished his eight years, can ever take us back to the pre-2015 days.”

He expressed optimism that President Buhari would outlive those who wish him dead.

Also addressing the crowd, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, apologised for an earlier face-off between the Buhari protesters and security agents at the gate of the Presidential Villa; he blamed the situation on “a communication gap.”

In his address, Mr. Moses Abdullahi, who is the convener of the Citizens Support for Good Governance in Nigeria, the organisers of the event, absolved the Buhari administration of blame for the current difficulties Nigerians are passing through.

He said “Nigeria is going through a difficult phase, a phase which is not the making of this administration. It is rather a consequence of decades of bad governance, decay and maladministration by a few under a banner now synonymous with corruption.”

“Nigeria can only change when we support the government and do our bit and not allow ourselves to be used as agents of destruction and political thuggery.”

He listed some of the achievement of the Buhari-led administration to include the improvement of security especially in the North-East, successes recorded in the war against corruption and improvement in Nigeria’s positive image among the comity of nations.  (Punchng.com)

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Grass-cutting Scandal: Senate Writes CBN, Asks For SGF Firms’ BVNs

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• Committee to summon contractors for questioning

Fidelis Soriwei and Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The Senate has requested for the Bank Verification Numbers of some companies linked to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, who were contracted for various projects on the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons.

The Senate Ad Hoc Committee on the Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East set up by the Senate to probe the alleged mismanagement of funds meant for the IDPs may also re-invite Lawal for questioning, it was also learnt on Tuesday.

Speaking to one of our correspondents on the level of the probe and the final report on Tuesday, an official of the Senate, who is conversant with the inner workings of the committee, said the panel did  not want to rely only on the statements of account of the companies.

The source said, “Apart from the statements of accounts submitted to us during the investigative hearings, we have also requested for the Bank Verification Numbers of the companies to authenticate the details of transactions provided to us and for us to know the operators of the accounts.”

The source also told one of our correspondents that the contractors engaged for various projects on the rehabilitation of the IDPs would also be summoned by the panel.

It was reliably learnt on Tuesday that the companies to be invited for questioning have been linked with the SGF.

The companies include Rholavision Engineering Limited, Josmond Technology Limited, Medina International Global Limited, Muby Ventures Nigeria Limited and JMT.

The interim report of the committee had indicted Lawal and the Presidential Initiative on the North-East being superintended by the Office of the SGF.

Based on the interim report of the committee, the Senate had on December 14, 2016, called for the resignation, probe and prosecution of the SGF over alleged mismanagement of funds meant for the North-East rehabilitation under his watch.

The lawmakers specifically called on security and anti-graft agencies to arrest and prosecute Lawal, who is overseeing the presidential initiative, for allegedly owning one of the companies awarded contracts in the rehabilitation of the North-East.

Lawal was alleged to have resigned his directorship of the company after becoming the SGF and after the company had executed the contract.

The SGF had denied the allegation, saying what the Senate said was “balderdash.” He said it was an attempt by the senators to malign him.

The source, who also dismissed Lawal’s claim, showed our correspondent letters from the Office of the SGF confirming the receipt of invitations from the Senate panel

One of such letters was signed by the Permanent Secretary (“SSO”), Mr. Aminu Nabegu, and dated November 28, 2016.

It was further learnt that the Senate was fast-tracking work on the final report.

The chairman of the committee, Shehu Sani, also told our correspondent that the final report would be released once all stakeholders had given their accounts on the management of the funds.

He said, “We are still inviting more companies, contractors and more public officials. What we submitted was an interim report. We are going to issue a conclusive report after the budget process.”

Sani  has also said that nobody will prevent the Senate from continuing with the investigation of Lawal.

Sani said the committee was investigating ‘massive misappropriation of funds in the North-East’ which would be pursed to a logical conclusion.

He said while the party was not opposed to the ongoing probe, its leadership was concerned with his choice of words at the Senate when the matter was discussed.

Sani made the comment while speaking with journalists shortly after a meeting with the members of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress led by the Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun,  in Abuja on Tuesday.

Sani said he was at the national secretariat of the party to honour a summon by the APC leadership over his use of words at the Senate where he said that the President was deploying deodorant to fight corrupt elements in his cabinet  and insecticides against others.

He said, “First, I wanted clarification from them whether the party is opposed to the probe of the looting of the funds of the Presidential Initiative on the Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East. They said the party is not opposed to it. I also ask them if the party is opposed to my interim report and they said no and so, I ask what their issues were.”  (Punchng.com)

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Shock, Uproar In Senate Over Buhari’s Plea For SGF, Lawal |The Republican News

 Onyedi Ojiabor

Uproar in Senate over Buhari’s plea for SGF

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir  David Lawal

 

•Clearing Lawal funeral service for anti-graft campaign, says Sani

There was uproar in the Senate yesterday its President Bukola Saraki read President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter on the Senate’s resolution that Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir David Lawal, should resign following alleged abuse of office.
Senator Shehu Sani, (Kaduna Central), who said he was shocked that President Buhari could be misled to write such a letters, described it as “the funeral service for anti-corruption fight” in the country.
Senator Sani chaired the ad-hoc committee on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the Northeast”.
The Kaduna Central senator, elected on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), noted that Buhari had chosen to fight corruption with “insecticide when it has to do with the Judiciary, National Assembly and the larger society and uses deodorant when it has to do with the Presidency.”
He added: “It is unfortunate that we have a political atmosphere where you have a saintly and angelic Presidency and a devillish and evil society.”
Saraki appeared uncomfortable with the line of defence Sani’s submissions and attempted to cut him short.
There was instantaneous uproar in the chamber as senators across party line, urged Sani to “fire on.”
Saraki retreated and allowed Sani to continue. He explained how his committee arrived at its conclusions and recommendations on the need for Lawal to resign and be prosecuted for alleged abuse of office.
Many senators were also said to have doubted that President Buhari wrote the letter since it was “hurriedly sent to the Senate after President Buhari travelled to the United Kingdome for medical treatment.”
In the letter, President Buhari faulted the Senate for resolving that Lawal should resign and be prosecuted.
The President said due process was not followed before the Senate arrived at its resolution.
Buhari’s letter dated January 17, 2017 absolved Lawal of wrong doing in the handling of funds approved for the care of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) reads:
“Re-resolution by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria concerning the humanitarian situation in the northeast region particularly in relation to the alleged role of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. David Babachir Lawal in the contract implementation regime of the Presidential Initiative for the northeast (PINE).
“You may recall your letter with reference NASS /8X/R/01/5 dated 15th December, 2016 in respect of the Senate consideration of the report of its ad-hoc committee on the mounting humanitarian crisis in the northeast that conveyed the resolution of the committee as contained in paragraph 1 subsection 8 therein which reads as follows:
“Engr. Babachir Lawal having contravenes the provisions of part one of the 5th schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended had breached his oath of office and should resign and be prosecuted by the relevant authority, S/075/02/01/16.
“Following the receipt of your letter, I set up a review team to consider the recommendations from the Senate committee.
“I have also conducted further investigation based on Engr Lawal’s response to the allegations and issues raised in the Senate resolution.
“I have come to the following conclusion that I believe will guide the Senate in the proper review of its interim report and eventual resolution.
“The report forwarded to the Presidency by the Senate which informed the decision that Engr Babachir Lawal should resign and be prosecuted by the relevant authority S/075/02/016 was an interim report as against a final report which ought to have been presented to the Senate in the plenary for adoption as a binding and final report before submission to the Presidency given the weight of allegations made in the report.
“The Senate committee set up to investigate the mounting humanitarian crisis in the northeast comprised of nine members namely, senator Oluremi Tinubu, senator Mohammed Hassan, Senator Solomon Adeola, senator Ben Murray Bruce, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, Senator Theodore Orji, Senator Yahaya A. Abdullahi, Senator Mallam Aliu Wakili and Senator Issac M Alfa.
“The review of the interim report shows that the interim report was only signed by only three out of the nine members namely Senator Solomon Adeola, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, and Senator Isaac M. Alfa
“The signing of the interim report by three out of nine members of the committee makes it a minority report of the Senate committee and not a committee report being an interim report. Thus, presenting a challenge for the Presidency to determine the weight to attach to the report as currently presented.
“I have also observed that the Senate ad-hoc interim committee report and the Votes and Proceedings of the Senate have not in its own right established that Engr Babachir Lawal was ever given an opportunity to appear before the committee and defend himself.
“It is also on record that a company linked to him Rollervision Engineering Limited was also not invited at anytime before the committee against the allegations which eventually formed the fulcrum of the Senate’s case against the company.
“You are invited to note that non application of principles of fair hearing by the Senate ad-hoc committee is a clear contravention of section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and against all principles of rule of law as initiated in the Nigerian legal system as well as the roles of the National Assembly committees on handling of public petitions.
“Consequently, I am of the view that baring other consideration that may arise as a result of subsequent investigation of Engr Lawal by the interim ad-hoc committee, the current report as presented to the Presidency in its own right does not meet the principles of fair hearing and compliance with the Senate rules for conduct of investigations in matters relating to abuse of office by public officers.
“In replying on the foregoing, I am not able to approve the recommendation to remove and prosecute Engr Lawal on the basis of the Senate ad-hoc committee report dated 15th December, 2016.”
Senator Sani said: “It is shocking to me that such a letter can come from the Presidency with such misinformation and outright distortions.
“They lied by saying that the committee didn’t invite the SGF. The committee invited the SGF and the letter was acknowledged by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the SGF.
“To make sure that we buttress our point, we made a paid advert in three or four national dailies: This one was published on Dec. 2, 2016 and the SGF is clearly mentioned as one of those that is expected to come and appear before the National Assembly.
“If they have the intention of simply reaching a pre-determined conclusion by covering up on the issues raised by the committee that is one thing.
“Secondly, issues were raised that only three members of the committee signed that interim report, that was also a second lie coming from the Presidency.
“I have a copy of the interim report which was initially signed by seven members of the nine members of that committee and I am going to submit it to the clerk of the Senate.
“Even if it is nine and then three people signed, we still have a quorum, but here I have seven people.
“I will say also that I listened to the list of the names that were read and they omitted the chairman which is myself.
“I know I am not very big in frame but I believe my name shouldn’t have been omitted.
“This shows clearly how the SGF and his minions in the Presidency misinformed the President to sign this letter.
“Secondly I will say this clearly, this letter is a funeral service for the anti-corruption fight.”
At this stage, Saraki tried to stop Sani from continuing.
The Senate President was overwhelmed by protests from senators.
“I stand by the report of that committee and it is very clear to us: if we can allow this committee’s report to be shredded into pieces then I think it would be in order for us to open all the 138 prisons in this country for all the convicts and awaiting trial inmates to go scot free.”
Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, told reporters after plenary that the “Senate stands on its resolution on Lawal.”
Abdullahi said Buhari’s letter absolving the SGF did not in any way change the position of the Senate.  (The Nation)

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I Have Submitted My Report On Magu, SGF To Buhari, Says AGF |The Republican News

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Niyi Odebode and Olalekan Adetayo

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, on Wednesday, said he had submitted the report on the probe of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal.

Malami, who disclosed this in an SMS he sent to one of our correspondents in Abuja, said he submitted the report to President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday last week, adding that the President would have the final say on the document.

The President had, on December 18, 2016, directed Malami to probe all top government officials accused of corruption.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who announced the presidential directive, had said any of the government officials found guilty of the allegations levelled against them would not escape prosecution.

Based on the directive, the AGF had queried the SGF and the acting chairman of the EFCC over allegations levelled against them by the Senate and the Department of State Services respectively.

They were reported to have since replied their queries.

Malami, when asked if he had submitted his report on the investigations of Lawal and Magu, said, “Yes, Friday last week.”

The AGF explained that the report was laid before the President who ordered the probe.

“It was submitted to the President,” he stated.

There were reports on January 1 that Buhari ordered the AGF to submit the report on Magu through the Vice-President.

According to the reports, the President delegated the Vice-President to make inputs to the recommendation of the AGF on the EFCC acting chairman.

In the communication with The PUNCH on Wednesday, Malami declined to comment on his recommendations and the contents of the report.

“It is a presidential document and the Presidency has the right to make statements over it and not the AGF,” he added.

Malami’s statement was in response to reports that he recommended that Magu should step aside while clearing Lawal of the allegations levelled against him.

Malami not blocked from meeting with Buhari —Presidency

A top government official confirmed to one of our correspondents on Wednesday that Malami submitted the report during an audience he had with the President on Friday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“I can confirm to you that the report is already with the President. The AGF submitted the report to the President on Friday,” the source said.

Although the source said he had no knowledge of the content of the report, he said “the President is studying it and he is already taking actions on it.”

He however did not say the kind of actions the President was already taking.

When contacted, the SSA to the President on Media and Publicity, Shehu, confirmed to one of our correspondents that the minister met with Buhari on Friday.

The presidential spokesman also denied media reports that Malami made attempts three times and was blocked from seeing the President.

“That report was not correct. Nobody around the President blocked the minister. In fact, they met on Friday,” he added.

The PUNCH gathered  that apart from the Friday meeting, Malami also met with Buhari on Monday and Tuesday.

The Friday meeting between Malami and Buhari, which lasted for about an hour, took place inside the President’s office shortly after the President and some government officials observed the Jumat prayers inside a mosque located in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The PUNCH had, on Friday, reported exclusively that the AGF would meet Buhari and that the probe of the SGF and the EFCC acting chairman might form part of the discussions at the meeting.

The SGF’s problem started on December 14, 2016, when the Senate called for his removal and prosecution following allegations that he awarded contracts to a company, in which he had interest regarding projects in the Internally Displaced Persons’ camps in the North-East.

The call followed the presentation of the interim report of the Ad hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East by the Chairman of the Committee, Shehu Sani.

Lawal was accused of contravening the provisions of the Public Procurement Act and the Federal Government’s Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to the award of contracts.

Presenting the report, Sani said some of the contracts were awarded to companies belonging to top government officials’ cronies and family members.

He explained that the committee found out that Global Vision Engineering Limited, a company, with Lawal as Director, for instance, was awarded a consultancy contract.

Sani said despite being an IT company, the firm got a job to clear grass in an IDP camp in Yobe State for N200m.

He said although Babachir resigned as director of the said company in September 2016, it was on record that he was a signatory to the accounts of the company.

Lawal denied all the allegations, saying “the Senate is talking balderdash; it has developed a bring-him-down syndrome.”

For Magu, his travails started on December 15, 2016, when the Senate rejected his nomination as the EFCC chairman.

The senators cited a report by the DSS, which indicated that he could jeopardise Buhari’s anti-graft war.

The DSS report listed several alleged offences against the EFCC boss.

Part of the allegations against Magu was his being in possession of EFCC documents in his private residence during the chairmanship of Farida Waziri.

The DSS also made reference to the circumstances surrounding Magu’s arrest, detention and suspension by the Nigeria Police.

The DSS report also queried Magu’s closeness to a retired military officer and businessman and a top bank official, who the report identified as being under probe for corruption allegations. (Punchng.com)

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