Other top government officials to be investigated
The presidential panel that investigated the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, has recommended that the duo be replaced.
Our reporter on Sunday learnt at the weekend that the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo-led committee recommended that the suspended government official and the nation’s top spy master be disengaged and replaced.
Others members of the investigation panel are; the National Security Adviser, General Babagana Monguno (rtd) and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on April 19, suspended Babachir and Oke and set up the three-man committee to investigate alleged infractions against both officials within a period of two weeks.
Babachir was investigated for allegedly awarding millions of naira contracts to a company in which he had interest, Global Vision Limited, under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).
A Senate Committee on Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, which had earlier found the suspended SGF culpable of alleged complicity in a N200 million grass-cutting contract to clear “invasive plant species” in Yobe State, had demanded his resignation and prosecution.
Oke was probed for alleged $43.4 million operations cash found by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at apartment 7B in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos. He had reportedly claimed that the money belonged to the NIA and was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan for some covert operations.
The presidential panel was mandated to uncover the circumstances by which the NIA came into possession of the funds and find out how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA as well as to establish whether or not there was a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.
In accordance with Buhari’s directive, the most senior permanent secretary in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Dr Habibat Lawal and Oke’s senior deputy, Ambassador Arab Yadam, are currently acting as SGF and Director-General of the NIA respectively.
A senior government official, who is close to the panel, confirmed to our correspondent that the report of the investigations indicted both officials.
“The report of the investigations is ready. The two suspended officials were recommended for total disengagement and replacement. It is clearly stated in the report that they should not be brought back to their positions. They are to be disengaged as recommended.
“As promised, the committee gave fair hearing to all the parties involved. It was a thorough investigation. You would recall that the investigation was slightly extended beyond the two-week period which Mr President gave the committee,” the source stated.
In a statement issued on May 3, the Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, had said that the panel was scheduled to submit its report to President Buhari on Monday, May 8.
But President Buhari left Nigeria for the United Kingdom on May 7 for a follow-up consultation with his doctors.
Asked why Acting President Yemi Osinbajo was yet to act on the report, the source, who pleaded anonymity, posited that doing so would be repugnant to natural justice since Osinbajo himself headed the probe panel.
“Natural justice demands that the acting president should not be the one to act on the report because he is the chairman of the panel. And if he had acted on it, the same people who are complaining now would have still raised an issue,” the official said.
He also disclosed that during their appearances before the panel, Babachir and Oke made some revelations that would lead to the investigation of some other top government officials.
The source, however, refused to mention names of those officials; he merely said that some of them currently occupy key positions in government.
But those who appeared before the committee included the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, who was on April 28 interrogated for several hours over the $43.4m claimed by the NIA.
Also on April 26, for over six hours, the panel quizzed the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Mamman Ahmadu and other officials of the agency as well as some members of the Presidential Initiative on North-East over the issue involving Babachir.
The acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, on April 21, tendered evidence before the panel on the $44.4m found at the NIA house in Lagos.
On April 25, the investigative panel grilled the suspended Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, for over 12 hours. His interrogation began at 10:00am and did not end as of 11:00pm.
Babachir’s first appearance before the panel was on April 24 when he was interrogated for over two hours. Accompanied by a mobile police officer and an aide, he appeared with a computer laptop and some documents.
The suspended SGF was also on May 1, invited to respond to the revelations made the previous week by the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Mamman Ahmadu and other officials of the agency. Babachir was also said to have been made to respond to the information provided to the three-man committee by some members of the PINE.