Suspended SGF Refuses To Appear Before Senate Committee

Suspended SGF, Babachir Lawal
Suspended SGF, Babachir Lawal

The suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, on Thursday, refused to appear before the Senate committee on mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East to state his own side of the story over allegations of abuse of office and procurement fraud leveled against him.

The committee had written the suspended SGF on Wednesday, asking him to appear before its hearing on Thursday, but his aides reportedly refused to accept the letter, triggering speculations that he may not honour the summons.

This is the third time Lawal would refuse to honour invitations from the Senate after the report indicting him became public.

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Lawal, who is also the chairman of the Presidential Initiative on the North East, PINE, was accused of awarding contracts to an ICT company, Rholavision, while retaining the directorship of the same company.

The contract was said to be for the removal of “invasive plant species” around Internally Displaced Persons’ camps in the North East.

During Thursday’s hearing of the committee, Lawal was alleged to have chased away legislative officials who had taken the invitation letter to him.

However, the committee waited for the SGF until noon before eventually ending the session.

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Chairman of the committee, Shehu Sani said the committee would present its final report to the Senate next week.

Recall that the Senate had recommended to President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend and prosecute Lawal based on his involvement in the contract scam.

But the President rejected the recommendation, saying that the SGF was not given fair hearing as he was not invited by the Senate to state his own side of the story.

The President also noted that the Senate report indicting Lawal was signed by only three members of the committee, describing it as a “minority report.”

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However, in a twist of events, Buhari last week announced the suspension of Lawal over the same allegations made by the Senate, and constituted a three-man investigative committee headed by Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo to investigate him.

Lawal has since appeared before the Osinbajo committee which was given 14 days to submit its report.