A Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN) Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Ali Wednesday commended the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari over the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation(SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal from office over his alleged involvement in the Internally Displaced Programme fund in the North East of the country.
He however said that, President Buhari’s decision was rather late in view of the avalanche of evidence tendered against Mr. Lawal by the senate.
Speaking with journalists in Ilorin on Wednesday, the legal luminary said that, “A lot of outrages have trailed the continue keeping in office of the suspended SGF, Mr. Lawal when the senate had taken decision over his alleged involvement in the IDPs fund especially his alleged ownership of companies that handled the project at the IDPs”.
Continuing, he said,”It is ridiculous that in a democratic setting like ours,a senate could take a decision,and it would be flagrantly ignored.
You don’t need to like their faces in the senate,but their words are law. But in any case, its better late than ever.”
He also said, that ”The President is the appointors of those two officers and can fire them at any time but that of suspended SGF ought to have come before now in view of the senate indictment on him on the contract scam allegedly involved by his company.
“One expected that,President Muhammadu Buhari ought to have asked his suspended SGF, Mr. Lawal to resign from office before now to allow proper investigation into his alleged involvement in the contract scam but with the decision to suspend him from office, then proper investigation would now be done on the issue”.
Also in his reaction, a factional chairman of Peoples Democractic Party(PDP) in Kwara state, Prince Sunday Fagbemi described the decision of President Buhari to suspend Mr. Lawal and Director General of NIA as a laudable one.
He said that,”It is a most reasonable decision so far in the day to day administration of the present government.
“The suspension of SGF, Mr. Lawal from office over his alleged involvement in the contract scam at the IDPs would allow for proper investigation without allowing for any mending fence in the investigation.
“Infact, the suspended SGF should have stepped aside before now for proper investigations into his alleged involvement in the contract scam at IDPs but with latest decision of Mr. President, I belief that, it is a most reasonable decision”.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal on Wednesday feigned ignorance of his suspension from office.
A statement by the Presidency on Wednesday had announced his suspension over the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).
Lawal, after meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, parried all the questions from journalists.
The encounter followed thus:
Journalist: Your suspension has just been announced. How will you react to the development?
Answer: Who announced it?
Journalist: The Presidency
Answer: Then ask them. Why are you asking me? Who is the Presidency?
Journalist: Have you been informed of the suspension?
Answer: By who? About what. What about you? Have you been informed?
Journalist: Yes sir.
Answer: By who?
Journalist: By the Presidency sir.
Answer: I have not seen it. I should have been given… I have not seen the press release so I cannot comment on it.
Journalist: It is currently trending online. Are you doubting the authenticity of the statement?
Answer: I have not seen it.
Journalist: Tell us the outcome of your meeting with the Vice-President sir.
Answer: I am always here. I always meet the Vice-President. I used to come here even before I was made SGF.
Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, has described the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal and Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, as an “afterthought and a prelude to the official cover-up of the N13 billion cash found in a residential apartment in Lagos.
Fayose slammed the Federal Government for setting up a three-man committee to investigate the crime and sidelining the anti-corruption agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Department of State Services (DSS).
The governor wondered why the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Administration unleashed EFCC and DSS on opposition figures and judges under investigation while setting up a committee to investigate its officials accused of corruption.
Accusing the Buhari government of becoming an embarrassment to Nigerians with what he called the macabre dance of shame, Fayose alleged that the President is fast losing control of his administration, accusing it of hypocrisy in its fight against corruption.
He wondered why the same President that wrote a letter to the Senate exonerating Lawal and clearing him of any wrongdoing now came back to suspend him from office over alleged involvement in the Presidential Initiative for the North East grass cutting scam.
In a statement issued on Wednesday by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Communication, Lere Olayinka, Fayose said: “Would the President have set up a probe panel if these scams were linked to anyone in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or those members of his party that are not in his good books?
“Most importantly, what business does Presidential Committee have with investigation of crime? Are they telling Nigerians that they have lost confidence in all the intelligence and investigative agencies of the government, including the EFCC and DSS?
“The Buhari-led Federal Government is operating like many governments within one government. There appears to be many Presidencies within the Presidency and this is the reason for the confusion everywhere.”
“Nigerians can no longer be deceived by a government that protects its own people whenever they are accused of corruption while setting the DSS and EFCC to invade houses of members of opposition parties, especially those perceived as having presidential ambition in 2019 in the night to arrest and detain them indefinitely even when corruption allegations against them have not been proved.”
“Did the President not write a letter dated January 17, 2017, to the Senate, exonerating the SGF? So what has changed in the case of the SGF? Was his announced suspension just for balancing?
“Why waiting for this messy OsborneGate to act on the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE) grass-cutting scam? Could it have been a case of one Presidency (Buhari) writing the Senate on January 17, 2017 to clear the SGF and another Presidency suspending him today?
“Whichever way one looks at it, it gives no other impression than that of confusion in the government.”
“Is their presidential committee also going to tell Nigerians those who abandoned N49 million cash in an airport that has CCTV cameras? What the owner of the N448 million the EFCC said it found in a shop at LEGICO Shopping Plaza, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos?
“In all these, what I see is a government trying frantically to cover-up corrupt acts of its functionaries but like I said before now, even though we know that the APC-led federal government has the capacity to sweep it under the carpet like many others before it, Nigerians will have it on record that they are being ruled by a government of the more you look, the less you see.”