One Month After, Buhari in Dilemma over Babachir, Oke

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 • Shehu Sani calls for immediate release of Osinbajo report
 

By Bolaji Adebiyi in Abuja     

More than a month after the submission of the report of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo committee that investigated the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal, and the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke, President Muhammadu Buhari remains undecided on what to do with the two senior officials of his government who were asked to step down from office more than five months ago.

Both were suspended from office on April 19, 2017, and asked to go and clear themselves of allegations of corrupt practices before a three-man committee headed by the vice-president.

Other members of the committee, which was given 14 days to turn in its report were the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami.

Although the report was ready for submission on May 8, it was put on hold as the president had to travel to London a day earlier for medical reasons. It was eventually submitted on August 23, 2017, after his return.

Asked for his committee’s findings, Osinbajo told State House correspondents to await presidential action on the report, suggesting that the wait might not be long since the investigation did not fall within the category of one that required a white paper committee to review before a decision could be made on it.

Since its submission, it has been more than a month and Senator Shehu Sani, who headed the Senate committee that raised the dust over Babachir’s alleged mismanagement of funds meant to ameliorate the humanitarian crisis in the North-east, said yesterday that the delay in the release of the Osinbajo report was unbecoming of a government that had made war against graft its priority.

“We are deeply concerned that more than a month after President Buhari received the Osinbajo report, action has not been taken on it,” he told THISDAY, urging the president to expedite steps to release the report.

Although the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, told THISDAY last week that there was no cause for anxiety as his boss was taking his time to consider the report, presidency sources said the president might, in fact be in a dilemma on how to implement the findings of the Osinbajo committee, which reportedly indicted Lawal and recommended his removal from office.

“The committee found that the award of a contract to a company related to another company in which the SGF had interests was improper, and therefore an indefensible infraction of the code of conduct for public officers,” a reliable source said, adding: “It was recommended that he be relieved of his position in the public interest.”

On Oke, the source said the committee found that the foreign currency equivalent of N13.3 billion found in a flat in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos belonged to the NIA as claimed by the suspended spy boss, but queried the unusual operational procedures of the agency, which it argued were open to widespread abuse and corruption.

“The committee recommended his immediate retirement as well as the overhaul of the agency’s financial rules and procedures to make them more transparent within the context of the demands of its peculiar operations as an external intelligence arm of the country,” the source said the report had recommended.

Multiple presidency sources said although Buhari has no problem implementing the recommendations on Oke, since he (Oke) is expected to retire in a few months, and the regulations guiding the operational procedures of the NIA are within the powers of the president to review without recourse to the legislature, his main challenge is how to provide a soft landing for Lawal.

Lawal, said a source, is a close ally and confidant of Buhari, who, as the national vice chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) North-east, worked tirelessly for the victory of the president in the region during the 2015 general election.

Relieving him of his post, according to the source, would amount to sacrificing him, an action which close confidants of the president suggest would be politically inexpedient, as it would whittle down their ranks in the Presidential Villa power configuration.

“But given the wide public interest Lawal’s case has generated, and against the background of the obvious reluctance of the presidency to move against him until the Oke matter broke, it would be equally politically inexpedient not to relieve him of his post as SGF,” the source said.

Besides, said another source, Lawal’s removal would present its own political complications as North-east politicians would demand that his replacement comes from their region, even as South-east party bigwigs have argued that the vacancy has presented Buhari an opportunity to redress the perceived marginalisation of the region (South-east) in political appointments since he assumed office.

Sani corroborated this line of thinking in his interview with THISDAY yesterday, saying: “The Senate and the Osinbajo committees’ reports have become a bone in the throat of the president.”

According to the senator who headed the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Investigation on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-east that indicted Lawal in December last year, “President Buhari is caught in a dilemma. If he acts on the Osinbajo report and punishes Lawal, he would be stepping on the toes of his friends, who are his close confidants.

“If he fails to take action on the report, he would be stepping on the toes of Nigerians, who will judge his anti-corruption crusade by his decision on the report,” Sani reasoned.

Saying Buhari has no option than to act and remove Lawal from office, Sani warned that the president’s delay in acting on the Osinbajo report was casting a stain on the federal government’s crusade against graft.

“My proverbial insecticide and deodorant tale has become a reality and would remain so until the president acts on the Osinbajo report,” he said.

Lawal had been accused by the Senate of awarding a N200 million grass-cutting contract to Rholavision Nigeria Limited, a company he allegedly had interests in, through the Presidential Initiative on North-east (PINE), which at the time was under his supervision.

The Senate recommended his removal from office and prosecution. But the federal government, which asked the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Malami, to investigate the Senate allegation, rejected the recommendations on the grounds that he and his company were not given fair hearing before the Senate came to its conclusions.

As the Senate tried to invite Lawal and his company to come and defend themselves, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) broke the news of a cash haul totalling N13.3billion in an unoccupied flat in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi in Lagos.

With the NIA claiming ownership of the huge funds, Oke’s trouble began, necessitating his suspension along with Lawal.   

A statement by the Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina said the president had ordered a full-scale investigation into the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the EFCC which were being claimed by the NIA.

According to Adesina, the investigation would inquire into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds, how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA.

The investigation was also to establish whether or not there had been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.

  • Intrepid

    ‘Soft landing’ African corrupt language.

    • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

      D matter tire me oh.

  • kamary06

    So Sai Baba is Lilly liver too when it comes to taking hard decision that affect his close confidants!

  • tinubuthief

    Don’t be deceived about the propaganda. Buhari administration is the worst so far when You talk of corruption. My brother go to the federal government ministries and agencies to witness the level which corruption has been taken to. It has never been so bad like this before. Terrible. So shameful. What Buhari and his brainless fellow cohorts are doing is fighting the opposition and not corruption.

  • Asuk

    The delay is deliberate and is a confirmation that the so called war against corruption is war against political opponents. All you need to do to be spared is be a member of APC and worship Buhari, and your sins are forgiven. Nigerians will be shocked at the scale of looting being carried out by this government when they are out of office.

  • princegab

    Beside lawal, pmb has a case to answer on kyari’s mtn half a billion kick back.

  • Jumpingbrook

    They are APC and nothing will happen to them, bet me

  • Yusuf Dahiru

    The fact that a rcommitee was set up and the mighty big wigs were suspended is a pointer to the fact that PMB will fight corruption no matter whose axe is gored, tell me could this have happened in GEJ’s time? If an idiot here says yes then all I have to do is to point at Diezani!

    • BankyMons

      Nonsense. Why hasn’t your god Buhari prosecuted Dieziani and GEJ?

    • georgy

      sir, do you really love this country or we are just here to share something and protect our own. OBJ sacked sunday Afolabi and jailed Tafa Balogun for corruption. even the very corrupt GEJ removed Stella for corrupt reasons and yet we say 16 years of PDP rot. here is a president that prides himself as a no nonsense anti corruption person, he is been asked to back his talk with actions for once and you are still referring us to GEJ and Diezani! we are really in big trouble.

      • PRIME MINISTER

        This is the attitude of the typical northerner, all the northerners who looted this country under GEJ are gradually off the hook except Dasuki who has personal issue with buhari. The country is for the North. This is what the agitations are fighting but shamefully the southerners are opposing themselves on this.

    • PRIME MINISTER

      I will point at Stella Odua, GEJ sacked her for corruption despite she worked hard for his election.
      Show me who buhari has convicted, all PDP looters who joined his APC got pardoned. All northern civil/public servants who looted the country got pardoned, e.g. Alhaji Dikko of customs. This hypocrisy is the more reason we should restructure or part ways. There more differences than similarities.

      • Ebere Eze

        In addition, Prof Berth Nnaji was removed as Minister of Power because a company he had interest in was involved in the bidding for the unbundling of PHCN. Also the GMD of NNPC under GEJ, Andrew Yakubu was removed on corruption accusation. GEJ is far ahead in dealing with corrupt members of his cabinet more PMB.

        • Ebere Eze

          And one more thing, GEJ engaged the services of renounwe global auditing firm, PWC, to audit NNPC when there was an accusation that there was $14b unremmitted amount to the Federation account. At the end of the audit, it was found that only $1b was unremmitted. GEJ investigated himself by that audit and never in the history of nation has that been done by any President. Can PMB confidently invite PWC today to audit his government or NNPC in the past two years under his regime?

    • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

      Yusuf, is this comedy hour, or are you being serious?

      • speechtherapy

        …comedy hour..awada keri keri

  • Osanebi Osakuni

    This illiterate Buhari will continue to fool himself. While the thief Babachir is in the comfort of his home after being investigated and found culpable of stealing public funds, many political opponents are being hounded by EFCC without proper investigation for crimes. The real dilemma Buhari faces is what will happen to Babachir if he is removed from office on grounds of corruption? Will he be arrested and tried or left alone as it is today?

  • Razorblade Abefele

    Why set up a committee to investigate an alleged crime. Is it not the purview of the EFCC to investigate economic crimes?. Mr Buhari and selective justice. He is not fighting corruption what he is fighting is perceived opponents and those he has score to settle with

    • forestgee

      PMB is a sectional leader NOT a Nationalist as some people claim. The Oct. 1 speech betrayed the man badly. Nigeria is where it is today because of bad leadership

  • Daniel Obior

    We need not lose any sleep over the Babachir affair or Buhari’s commitment to his so called fight against corruption. Buhari is in no dilemma. He is clear his fight against corruption is only a tool to pursue his perceived personal and political opponents and foes. He has so far deployed it in a most one sided fashion, and will continue to do so. If Buhari was serious about ridding the country of corruption, Babachir would have long been dismissed, put behind bars and prosecuted, as he has done for instance to his opponents. Buhari simply has no credibility.

    • Yusuf Dahiru

      Daniel, yet he suspended Babachir, na WA for your thinking o???

      • BankyMons

        You have no shame!!!!

        • Cheta God

          No insults please. Just make your own point

          • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

            Is it an insult to tell someone he has no shame?
            Considering that below you accused Liar M of barking like a dog and hyena combined

          • BankyMons

            Lol. You don catch am, thank you bro.

          • Cheta God

            Sorry Michael. No insult intended even though Liar Mohammed is not helping matters.

          • BankyMons

            That’s not an insult bro – just trying to bring him to the narrow path.

      • Pot and kettle

        Give yourself a break and be honest…..Please

      • PRIME MINISTER

        It is on record that GEJ sacked stella Odua for corruption despite the fact that she worked tirelessly for his election. Yet GEJ was accused of not fighting corruption, what do we then say of sai baba who swore to destroy corruption! Talk is cheap.

      • Durotimi Oye

        Chineke God! someone was caught with $45m government money and you want us to praise buhari for suspending him? If I ever hear you talk of diezani being prosecuted na koboko I go take flog you

      • Ubong

        Pls be fair if you really want any progress in Nigeria. Our president must put aside his presidential funders interest and do the right thing in his wsr against corruption.

      • Asuk

        Have forgotten how long it took him to do that? He foot dragged, defended him, then Shehu Sani accused him of using deodorant to fight APC corrupt persons, while using insecticide to fight others. Yusuf is this true or false???

      • Cheta God

        Suspension is no punishment. Step aside for thorough. It is taking ages for the investigation and action to be completed. If he were someone else Liar Mohammed would have been barking like a dog and hyena combined. Fair should seen to be
        fair.

      • speechtherapy

        …he was forced to suspend

    • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

      It is even worse. If you are not on his side, there is no redress to the courts. You just get hounded and put in jail – no right of reply. Ask Dasuki et al

  • Darcy

    Gods man, make the easy decision. Fire him!