Why I cleared SGF Lawal From The ‘Grass Cutting’ Scandal–Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has cleared the Secretary to the Government of the Federation [SGF] Engr. Babachir Lawal of corruption allegation mounted against him.

In a letter from the President read by the Senate President Senator Bukola Saraki , Buhari said that he’s unable to act on the Senate recommendations on Babachir Lawal based on the following reasons:

  1. The letter says only 3 out of the 9 members of the Ad-hoc Committee append their signature on the report and thus makes it a minority report and not a committee report.
  2. It also states that Engr. Babachir Lawal was not given an opportunity to defend himself before a panel of the Ad-hoc Committee.
  3. The Company alleged to be owned by Mr. Babachir Lawal was not invited to defend itself on the allegations laid.

Read Below Buhari’s letter on SGF :

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Dear Distinguished Senate President, Re-resolution by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria concerning the humanitarian situation in the northeast region particularly in relation to the alleged role of  the secretary to the government of the federation, Engr. David Babachir David Lawal in the contract implementation regime of the presidential initiative for the northeast (pine).

You may recall your letter with reference NASS /8X/R/01/5 dated 15th December, 2016 in respect of the Senate consideration of the report of its ad-hoc committee on the mounting humanitarian crisis in the northeast that conveyed the resolution of the committee as contained in paragraph 1 subsection 8 therein which reads as follows. Engr. Babachir Lawal having contravenes the provisions of part one of the 5th schedule of the 1999 constitution as amended had breached his oath of office and should resign and be prosecuted by the relevant authority, S/075/02/01/16.

Following a receipt of your letter, I setup a review team to consider the recommendations from the senate committee. I have also conducted further investigation based on Engr Lawal’s response to the allegations and issues raised in the Senate resolution.  I have come to the following conclusion that I believe will guide the senate in the proper review of its interim report and eventual resolution.

  1. The report forwarded to the presidency by the senate which informed the decision that Engr Babachir Lawal should resign and be prosecuted by the relevant authority S/075/02/016 was an interim report as against a final report which ought to have be presented to the senate in the plenary for adoption as a binding and final report before submission to the presidency given the weight of allegations made in the report.
  2. The senate committee setup to investigate the mounting humanitarian crisis in the northeast comprised of nine members namely, senator Oluremi Tinubu, senator Mohammed Hassan, Senator Solomon Adeola, senator Ben Murray Bruce,  Senator Tayo Alasoadura,  Senator Theodore Orji,  Senator Yahaya A. Abdullahi, Senator Mallam Aliu Wakili and Senator Issac M Alfa.
  3. The review of the interim report shows that the interim report was only signed by only three out of the 9 members namely senator Solomon Adeola, senator Yahaya Abdullahi, and Senator Isaac M. Alfa
  4. The signing of the interim report by three out of 9 members of the committee makes it a minority report of the Senate committee and not a committee report being an interim report. Thus, presenting a challenge for the presidency to determine the weight to attach to the report as currently presented.
  5. I have also observed that the senate ad-hoc interim committee report and the votes and proceedings of the Senate have not in its own right establish that Engr Babachir Lawal was ever given an opportunity to appear before the committee and defend himself.
  6. It is also on record that company linked to him Rollervision engineering limited was also not invited at anytime before the committee to defend himself against the allegations which eventually formed the fulcrum of the Senate’s case against the company.

You are invited to note that non application of principles of fair hearing by the senate ad-hoc committee is a clear contravention of section 36 (1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and against all principles of rule of law as initiated in the Nigerian legal system as well as the roles of the National Assembly committees on handling of public petitions.

Consequently, I am of the view that baring other consideration that may arise as a result of subsequent investigation of Engr Lawal by the interim ad-hoc committee. The current report as presented to the presidency in its own right does not meet the principles of fair hearing and compliance with the senate rules for conduct of investigations in matters relating to abuse of office by public officers.

In replying on the foregoing I am not able to approve the recommendation to remove and prosecute Engr Lawal on the basis of the Senate ad-hoc committee report dated 15th December, 2016.

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