Buhari clears SGF Lawal in ‘grass-cutting contracts’ scam

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President Muhammadu Buhari has explained why he would not sack the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, after the recommendation of the Senate on December 15, 2016.

The Senate had accused Mr. Lawal of involvement in contract scam awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East, PINE.

An interim report of its ad-hoc committee on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East” presented by Shehu Sani indicted Mr. Lawal for receiving N200 million contract to clear “invasive plant species” in Yobe State through a company, Rholavision Nigeria Limited.

In a letter read by Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday the president, Mr. Buhari, while absolving the SGF of blame, picked holes in the senators’ findings.

The Senate said 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.

Mr. Lawal immediately denied the allegations, describing the report “balderdash”.

In his reaction, Mr. Buhari said the SGF was not given fair hearing before the indictment.

The president said only three out of nine members of the ad-hoc committee appended their signature on 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.

But Senator Shehu Sani raised a point of order, saying everything in the letter is a lie.

“Corruption in the judiciary and others is treated with insecticide while corruption in the government is treated with deodorant,” Mr. Sani added.

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