N223m fraud: Senators tackle ex-SGF over innocence claim

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Senators have faulted the claim by a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, that the corruption allegations that led to his sacking are untrue.
The former SGF at the weekend had described as stupid those who were calling him a corrupt person.
He dismissed the findings by the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East led by Senator Shehu Sani, which probed, indicted and recommended his sacking and prosecution.
Lawal, who expressed his confidence in the EFCC to uncover the truth, disclosed that he and President Buhari, as leaders of the All Progressives Congress, met on a regular basis.
National Daily gathered that that Lawal who was removed from his post was accused by the Senate of allegedly awarding one of his companies with a grass-cutting contract to the tune of N223m under the Presidential Initiative for the North-East.
Based on the Senate’s resolution, President Muhammadu Buhari had set up a three-man presidential panel made up of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN); Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN); and the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.). The panel also indicted Lawal.
 
But in a swift reaction, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, stated that the lawmakers were not biased in their investigation of Lawal.
He said the committee complied with the audi alterem partem principle in law, which means giving a fair hearing to all concerned in carrying out its investigation.
“In all, the former SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal, was given an invitation to appear before the committee to make good his claims and he declined to respond to it. The committee even went an extra mile to publishing the invitation to the almighty erstwhile SGF in two national dailies and he showed contempt to the committee and, by extension, the Senate.”
Also, the Chief Whip, Senator Sola Adeyeye, described EFCC’s trial of Lawal as belated. The lawmaker also noted that the former SGF failed to take the opportunities made available to him by the legislative panel to defend himself.
Adeyeye stressed that the Osinbajo-led panel also indicted Lawal and recommended his sacking, which vindicated the Senate on its position on the matter.
According to the lawmaker, the case of the former SGF should have long been taken to court. “If the man wins in court, so be it; and if he does not, so be it,” he said.

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