- Senator Shehu Sani queries why President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to act on the Osinbajo report which investigated Babachir Lawal, and Ayo Oke
- The investigative report was submitted to the president after he returned to the country from medical vacation
- Sources says Buhari’s challenge is how to provide a soft landing for Lawal
Senator Shehu Sani has raised concerns over the delay by President Muhammadu Buhari to act on the report of the committee that investigated suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, and the director-general of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke.
Babachir was suspended sequel to accusation by the Senate that he breached Nigeria’s law and code of conduct for public officers in the handling contracts awarded by the presidential initiative for the northeast (PINE), an agency under him.
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While Oke found himself in trouble after the EFCC discovered a large amount of foreign and local currencies in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The NIA said the money belonged to it but the EFCC still went ahead to secure a court order forfeiting the money to the Nigerian government.
A panel headed by vice president, Yemi Osinbajo then investigated the allegations of contract fraud and bribery levelled against Lawal as well as the about N13 billion found in the Ikoyi apartment by the anti-graft EFCC and claimed by the NIA.
Though the report of the committee was ready for submission on May 8, it was put on hold as the president had to travel to London for medical reasons.
The report was eventually submitted on August 23, after Buhari returned to the country from London.
However, the president is yet to take any concrete action on the report one month after it was submitted to him.
This Day reports that the president’s inaction has led some officials to believe that he is in dilemma particularly as regards Lawal.
“We are deeply concerned that more than a month after President Buhari received the Osinbajo report, action has not been taken on it,” Senator Sani said.
A source said the investigative committee recommended that Lawal be relieved of his position in the public interest.
“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,” the source said.
The source stated that the committee found that the foreign currencies found in a flat in Osborne Towers, Lagos belonged to the NIA as claimed by Oke, but recommended that he be retired due to 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.
But multiple presidency sources told the newspaper that while the Buhari has no problem implementing the recommendations on Oke, his main challenge is how to provide a soft landing for Lawal.
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One of the sources said sacking Lawal who worked tirelessly for the victory of the president in the region during the 2015 general election would amount to sacrificing him.
Another source said Lawal’s removal might make close confidants of the president view such action to be a wrong political move 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.
Meanwhile, the Inter-Governmental Action against Money Laundering in West Africa has pledged support for efforts by the EFCC and the Nigerian government to ensure the lifting of the suspension of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) from the Egmont Group in the shortest time possible.
The director-general of GIABA, Adama Coulibaly, made the pledge on Wednesday, September 27 when he lead a delegation on a courtesy visit to the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, at the commission's headquarters in Abuja.
While commending the EFCC for championing the anti-corruption crusade in Nigeria, Coulibaly said that the agency’s achievements were not only for the country, but for the African continent.
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