Finally, Buhari Sacks Lawal, Oke

After a load of criticisms over his inaction that trialed the alleged fraud perpetrated by former Secretary to the Federal Government (SFG) Babachir Lawal and Director General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, President Muhammadu Buhari finally bared his pangs, Monday, with the sacking of the two top government officers.
In a statement, Monday, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the sacking of the two government officials was based on the report of a three-man panel led by Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, that investigated them.
Adesina said Buhari has subsequently appointed Boss Mustapha as the new SGF.
The statement read: “President Muhammadu Buhari has studied the report of the panel headed by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, which investigated allegations against the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ayo Oke.
“The President accepted the recommendation of the panel to terminate the appointment of Lawal, and has appointed Boss Mustapha as the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation. The appointment takes immediate effect.”
Trouble started for Lawal last December, when Senate committee on the humanitarian crisis in North East indicted him for bribery and breach of law in the procurement exercise at the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).
Tbe interim report of the committee had unearthed grass-cutting scandal in which Lawal, as the SGF, used his company Rholavision Engineering Ltd, while still being its director, to receive consultancy contract to clear invasive plant in Yobe State from PINE, an intervention agency under his office.
President Buhari had suspended him and the matter referred to the presidential investigate committee chaired by Vice President.
Apart from the grass-cutting contract, the final report showed how Lawal received at least N450m in kickbacks from companies that got contracts from PINE.
The report annexed evidences of bank transactions between the companies and Lawal’s accounts as well as documents from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Bureau of Public Procurement and the Corporate Affairs Commission which showed various ways by which Lawal abused his office.
Apart from the companies from which allegedly Lawal got kickbacks, there are other dozens of companies that received PINE contracts in manners that suggested disregard for law and due process.
Between November 2015 and July 2016, the agency received over N8.3bn, out of which N6.8bn was expended on projects and N231.5m on recurrent expenditures.
PINE, according to the report of the Senate committee, “awarded 39 contracts to various companies to carry out the removal of invasive plant species plants, rehabilitation/renovation works, food supplies, consultancy services and provision of shelter (supply of tarpaulin cabins) etc.”
But the committee found that all the contracts were “awarded under the principle of emergency procurement stipulated in section 43 (i) and (ii) but absolute disregard for sub-section (iii) of the same section 43 of the Public Procurement Act.”
According to a BPP’s review attached to the report, none of the bidders for all the contracts had the full requirements stipulated in section 16 of the Public Procurement Act and, thus, none was eligible to be awarded contract.
Such requirements include CAC registration, tax payment, PENCOM certificate, VAT, ITF and BPP registration.
The committee also found how 40 trucks of grains meant for internally displaced persons were diverted; and how the National Emergency Management Agency, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, the Federal Ministry of Health and PINE were not rendering perfunctory services and neglecting the critical needs of the Boko Haram victims.
As for Oke, various sums of money that included $43.4m, N23.2m and £27,800 were discovered in an apartment in Ikoyi, Lay, which Oke had claimed belonged to the National Intelligence Agency.
However, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission discovered that the apartment belongs his wife.
Also, he could not account for what the money was approved for, where the cash was taken from.
Although, he said the money was for ‘covert operation given to the NIA’ by the President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, there were questions why it was not disclosed to the Buhari administration almost two years after coming into office.
Oke was also queried on why the huge cash meant for a ‘secret security operation’ was moved from a well-fortified premises of the NIA to a private residence allegedly bought by a private company linked to his wife.
Buhari had set up the Vice President’s panel that recommended for his sack.

Author: News Editor

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