The current face-off between the Senate and the executive arm of government is anything but over, following the failure of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, to honour an invitation by the upper legislative chamber.
SGF Lawal was billed to appear before the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East on Thursday to clarify his involvement in the controversial award of contracts to a company in which the SGF has interests.
It would be recalled that Lawal had been indicted by the Senate committeeof awarding contracts running into hundreds of millions to a company
called Rholavision Engineering Company, for clearing of “invasive plant species” in the Northeast.
Following the indictment, the SGF accused the Senate of not inviting him to hear his own side of the story before going public with its report which advised President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve him of his duties.
The Senate then wrote to Lawal inviting him to appear before the ad-hoc committee on the North East on Thursday, but the SGF on Wednesday replied the Senate, saying that he will be unable to honour the invitation due to the fact that he had challenged the matter in court.
“I wish to kindly request that you draw the attention of the other members of the committee that I will not be able to appear before the committee primarily because I have gone to court to challenge the invitation among others,” Lawal’s letter on Wednesday read.
However, on Thursday, the SGF wrote another letter informing the Senate that he will not be able to appear before the committee as he had pressing government function to attend.
The letter which was addressed to the Chairman of the Senate ad-hoc
committee, Shehu Sani, read: “I wish to kindly request that you draw the attention of the other members of the Committee that I will not be able to appear before the Committee primarily because of a pressing engagement of Government which clashed with the date and time of the hearing.
“I kindly request a rescheduling of the hearing, please.”
The development is coming just 24 hours after another appointee of the President, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, refused to honour an invitation by the Senate.
The lawmakers wanted the customs CG to appear before them in his uniform to explain the proposed vehicle import duty payment policy of the NCS.
Rather than honour the invitation, the Attorney General of the Federation
and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, wrote to the Senate, urging it to cease further action on the customs CG as the issue on the legality or otherwise of the CG wearing his uniform had been taken to court.
Malami explained that any further action on the matter, now that it is in court, would be subjudice. But the legislators ignored the letter and called for Ali to resign his post as CG of customs, saying that he was not fit for public office.