EFCC Sets Up Crack Detectives to Probe former SGF, Lawal

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has set up a crack team to probe the fraud allegations against the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.
The anti-graft agency confirmed this on Thursday in a phone interview with the Channels Television.
The team, made up of special investigators from the EFCC, is to examine all the details relating to the N200m contract for the cutting of grass in the North East which is linked to the former SGF, the agency said.
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.

Author: News Editor

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