The Senate has requested for the resignation and trial of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, following alleged complicity in the diversion of North east humanitarian funds.
This followed the presentation of interim report of the Adhoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East, by the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Shehu Sani in Abuja on Wednesday.
The call for Lawal’s resignation followed alleged contravention of the provisions of Public Procurement Act and the Federal Government Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to award of contracts.
Presenting the report, Sani said that some of the contracts were awarded to companies belonging to top government officials’ cronies and family members.
He explained that the committee found out that Rholavision Engineering Limited, a company, with Lawal as Director, for instance, was awarded consultancy contract.
The company’s major role, according to him, is the removal of invasive plant species in Yobe on March 8.
“Although, Lawal resigned the directorship of the said company in September 2016, it is on record that he is a signatory to the accounts of the company,’’ he said.
Sani further said aside Lawal’s complicity, the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE), which carried out the entire procurement activities, contravened laid down rules.
According to him, those that award contract takes undue advantage of the provision of emergency situation contract award in the procurement act to inflate figures.
He also said most of the contracts had no direct bearing or impact on the IDPs, who were living in deplorable conditions.
Sani said that in spite of the health challenges in the camps, there was absence of the Federal Ministry of Health.
According to him, only the Nigerian Air force Medical Team has presence in the area with only little equipment at their disposal.
He explained that the committee equally noticed the presence of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and State Emergency Management Agency(SEMA), working with other agencies.
“Despite the claim by some federal government agencies, what is on ground as seen by the committee does not justify or reflect the claims.
“For example, over 70 per cent of displaced children both in camps and with host communities are out of school due to lack of infrastructure.
“Generally, there is acute shortage of food amongst the IDPs, as observed in one of the IDPs visited,’’ he said.
Supporting the call for Lawal’s resignation, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Sen. Dino Melaye, said the report showed that Lawal became SGF before his resignation as director of the company.
According to him, the action is not befitting of a man of his caliber.
“When this committee started looking at the books, SGF ran to the Corporate Affairs Commission and quickly withdrew his directorship of the company after the execution of the contract.
“ As I speak to you, he is still a signatory to the account of the company. This contract is not a constituency project.
“This is disgraceful, this is abominable, this is condemnable, this is unheard of and this is an embarrassment to we members of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Babachir Lawal have exhibited anti-Buhari tendencies.
“This is gross abuse of office, the truth is mightier than any currency and every lie has an expiry date,’’ he said.
However, the Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, called the attention of the Senate to the fact that since the report was an interim one, the decision to call for the SGF’s resignation was premature.
“ I am worried. The worry is the fact that this is an interim report.
We have seen the content, discussed it, suggested way forward for completion but what decision do we take based on interim report.”
“In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki commended the chairman of the committee and all the members for being able to submit a report before the end of this session.
He also commended them for the courage to come out glaring infractions.
“The message clearly coming from the Senate to all those in charge of these fund is that we cannot continue with business as usual.
“For those who have contravened the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, I believe that this government that stands on the issues of fighting corruption is seen to do the right thing,’’ he said.
He urged the committee to complete the report in good time and assured that resolutions and recommendations would be taken seriously.(NAN)