Buhari cancels FEC meeting, receive report on SGF Lawal, DG NIA

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) failed to hold on Wednesday as scheduled as President Muhammadu Buhari used the opportunity to receive the report of the committee constituted to look into allegations of impropriety against suspended Secretary against the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke.

A statement issued by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, had in statement early on Monday, disclosed that President Buhari would receive the report from Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who chaired the committee.

The SGF’s travail began when the Senate accused him of breach of Nigeria’s law and code of conduct for public officers in the handling of contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East, PINE, an agency headed by him.

Producing damning documents, the Senate said Lawal awarded contracts to companies in which he was a director as at the time of the awards and also took bribe from other beneficiaries.

For Oke, the NIA boss, his misfortune commenced after large amounts of foreign and local currencies were discovered by the EFCC, in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The NIA claimed ownership of the money but the EFCC still went ahead to secure a court order forfeiting the money to the Nigerian government.

Thereafter directed investigation into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds, how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA. He also asked the panel to establish whether or not there had been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.

President Buhari eventually received the report from Prof. Osinabjo who refused to disclose the content of the report to journalist after his meeting with the president.

Prodded on the next line of action, the Vice President said the matter was now in the hands of President Buhari who alone can decide the fate of the two senior government officials.

“Of course, I cannot (provide details of the report),” he said. “How can I?
“This is a document which has just been submitted to the president. He is the one who will read the recommendations and the facts and then make a decision.”

Asked if justice would be served in the cases, the Vice President said whatever decision that would be taken would be in the public interest.

“Well, as you can imagine, we are always fair minded and the whole approach is to ensure that justice is done in all cases. It is in the interest of the government and also the interest of the nation that things are done properly and that there is due process and that we are not unfair. You can be sure that we will do the right thing,” he said.

On whether heads are likely to roll, Prof. Osinbajo replied:

“No, how can I tell you? If you want to know what is in the report you have to wait, you really have to wait.”

He was also not forthcoming on when the decision to be taken by the president would be made known to the public.

“All I can now say is that we have submitted the report to the president and it is a very detailed report as a matter of fact. The president has to study the report and make decisions,” he said. Continuing, the Vice President stated:

“It is fact finding committee as you know and what our terms of reference were, was to find out based on the fact available to us and based on the interviews of witnesses of what transpired in those cases of the report: one involving the SGF and the other the DG of NIA.

“We have now concluded that and we submitted a full report with recommendations to the president. We cannot of course give you any kind of details because the president has to look at the report, study it and then make his own decisions based on that report.”

The president had on April 19 constituted the Osinbajo committee to investigate the corruption allegations levelled against the SGF and Oke by the Senate and that against Mr. Oke by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, were also in the committee.

The Senate had first made accusations of corruption against the SGF in December 2016, demanding his suspension from office and prosecution.
The Presidency in January this year rejected the Senate’s indictment of Lawal on the ground that he was not given the right to defend himself. It eventually caved in three months later by suspending the SGF and the NIA DG.