By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Against the backdrop of mounting corruption allegations against some top officials of his government, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to investigate the involvement of any of the officials.
A two-paragraph statement issued by the president’s media aide, Mr. Garba Shehu, said: “The attention of the presidency has been drawn to a number of reports in the media, in which various accusations of corruption have been levelled against some top officials in the administration.
“In that regard, President Buhari has instructed the Attorney General of the Federation to investigate the involvement of any top government officials accused of any wrong-doing. If any of them is liable he will not escape prosecution.”
There have been allegations of corruption against top government officials. Even the AGF who was directed by the president to carry out the investigations had been accused of corruption.
The Senate last week asked the president to suspend the Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF), Mr. Babachir David Lawal, and ensure his prosecution over alleged breach of the Nigerian laws in the handling contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East, (PINE).
It had also refused to screen and confirm the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, following a damning report by the Department of State Services (DSS), which alleged that he was corrupt and had been leading a double life.
THISDAY also learnt that the president had directed Malami to investigate the DSS report on Magu and revert to him today, prior to the AGF’s departure for an official trip to China.
The decision to possibly investigate Lawal followed a report by an ad-hoc committee of the Senate, led by Senator Shehu Sani, on the mounting humanitarian crisis in the North-east.
The committee, in its interim report submitted last Wednesday, indicted the SGF for allegedly receiving a N233 million contract to clear invasive plant species (removal of weeds) in Yobe State through his company, Rholavision Nigeria Limited.
The Senate alleged that he had remained a director of the company till September 2016, over a year after his appointment, in breach of Nigeria’s code of conduct for public officials as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
In response to the indictment, Lawal confirmed that he set up Rholavision in 1990 to carry out information and communications technology services.
But it was found by the Senate to be handling a N233 million bush clearing contracts in the North-east in 2016. Even worse, the Yobe State Government alleged the contract was never executed.
The SGF denied any wrongdoing. He even accompanied the president to the National Assembly to present the 2017 budget proposal.
After the budget presentation, the SGF told journalists that the Senate was only victimising him and trying to “rubbish” his personality.
He said: “The senate is talking balderdash; it has developed the habit of the bring-him-down syndrome.”
“I have the report of the Senate committee in which it was said that I didn’t resign from Rholavision Nigeria Limited. Let me tell you, Rholavision was formed by me in December 1990, and it has been a company that was run very successfully.
“Now, when I was appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation, I resigned from that company on 18th August 2015. I can see that in their report, they are talking about 2016. I don’t know where they got their facts.
“By the way, it is very instructive that when the committee was sitting, no effort was ever made to invite me to come and make a submission. It is therefore, surprising that they devoted a whole session of today (Wednesday) to maligning me, claiming what is not true without even giving me the chance to come and put my own case before them.”