A senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, has tackled President Muhammadu Buhari for absolving the Secretary to the Government of Federation, Babachir Lawal, of complicity in the grass-cutting contract scandal.
The Senate president, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday read the president’s letter exonerating Mr. Lawal from the scandal.
An interim report of its ad-hoc committee on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East” presented by Mr Sani in December last year has indicted Mr Lawal for receiving N200 million contract to clear “invasive plant species” in Yobe State through a company, Rholavision Nigeria Limited.
Mr Sani’s committee had discovered that Mr. Lawal remained a director of the company for over a year after his appointment, a clear breach of Nigeria’s code of conduct for public officials as enshrined in the 1999 constitution.
In a letter read by the Senate president on Tuesday, Mr. Buhari picked holes in the senators’ findings, saying Mr. Lawal was not given a fair hearing.
The president said only three out of nine members of the ad-hoc committee appended their signature to the report, and thus making it a minority report not a committee report.
Mr. Buhari also said the company alleged to be owned by Mr. Lawal was not invited to defend itself on the allegations laid since its decision forms the fulcrum of the Senate resolution on the committee report.
Raising a point of order after the president’s letter was read, Mr. Sani said, “everything that letter is a lie”.
“Corruption in the judiciary and others is treated with insecticide, while corruption in the executive is treated with deodorant,” Mr. Sani said.
He explained that Mr Lawal was invited before the committee and his secretary received the letter and acknowledged receipt.
According Mr Sani, three adverts appeared in three newspapers where Mr Lawal and others connected were also invited.
He told the Senate that he would make available a copy of the invitation letter sent to Mr. Lawal to the clerk of the Senate.