Still on the Matter: Are we going to prosecute SGF, Babachir Lawal or what?

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer Babachir Lawal has been embroiled in a corruption scandal for months now but unlike those who have even got the customary media trial, it looks like Engineer Lawal’s matter has been pre-determined to belong under the carpet. But we cannot have that, can we?

Babachir was appointed by President Buhari in August 2015 to take over the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation from Pious Anyim Pious. But that’s not why we care so much about him is it? No one even knows what that office really entails. Or do they?

Anyway, so Engineer Lawal, prior to being appointed the SGF had started this company called Rholavision Engineering Limited in 1990. According to the SGF, “it has been a company that was run very successfully.”

So successfully that this company was awarded a contract by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), the agency set by the presidency as part of the humanitarian intervention efforts to restore normalcy to the North East and ensure the rehabilitation of the victims of the Boko Haram insurgency. The terms of the contract require this company to clear ‘invasive plant specie’ in Yobe State in exchange for the sum of NGN 200 million.

Essentially, Mr Babachir’s contract required his company to cut 200 million Naira’s worth of grass despite the company having been registered to carry out Information Communications Technology services. Easily, one c=may explain this to mean that Rholavision had been so successfully run that it could do anything, especially a 200 million Naira contract.

You’d think so. Except that there are indications that the contract was not executed. Not so successfully run now, is it?

Strike 1!: Awarded a contract he may not have executed.

In October, 2016, the House of Representatives said the SGF was responsible for the failure of the House committee to proceed with investigations into the diversion of IDP funds. According to them, Engineer Babachir refused to appear before the House to explain any of the allegations of mismanagement as he should have since the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE) works under the office of the SGF.

Strike 2!

The ad hoc committee of the Senate led by Senator Shehu found that at the time of awarding the contract in March 2016, Mr. Lawal was still the director of Global Vision and even though he resigned in September, the SGF remains the signatory to the company’s account.

This places him in an already compromising situation even if you chose to discountenance strike 1 above. The Code of Conduct for Public Officers in Nigeria precludes public officers from being caught in such situation. And it’s the same all over. Ask Kenllyanne Conway and Ivanka Trump.

By the end of December, the Shehu-Sani led committee was assured that strike 2 alone was enough justification to call for the SGF’s resignation. To which the latter responded in a public statement:

“The senate is talking balderdash; it has developed the habit of bring him down syndrome. Nigerians have decided that we should destroy our best. We should all destroy the promising and best among us by bringing people down without a cause… when I was appointed secretary to the government of the federation, I resigned from that company on 18th August 2015. I can see that in their report, they are talking about 2016. I don’t know where they got their facts.

He also added that the Senate failed to invite him while they were making their findings.

We had our hopes raised so high when the President replaced Babachir with Vice-President Osinbajo as the Chairman of the presidential committee on the reconstitution of federal government boards of parastatals, agencies and commissions. We thought it was to allow enough distance between the Engineer’s investigations and the Presidency – bias never helps.

Since then…

The Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami has queried the SGF without reaching any meaningfuln conclusion we know of.

President Buhari has reportedly rejected the Shehu-Sani led committee recommendations on account of him not getting his day before the committee.

Senator Shehu Sani has, because of this, accused President Buhari of having double standards.

The Senate has requested Bank Verification Numbers of companies allegedly owned by SGF, in continuation of  its investigation into contracts on the rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons.

But what we haven’t heard are the real findings that will prove there’s a case against Babachir Lawal.

Like : was the contract executed?, Did he resign before or after the contract was awarded and had he taken the office of SGF yet?

 

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