Buhari Defends SGF Babachir Lawal, “Grass Cutter” Indicted By Senate Over IDP Funds

President Muhammadu Buhari has allegedly pleaded with the Senate to reconsider its rejection of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

It was learnt at the Senate that the president has equally asked the lawmakers to review their stand on the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal.

If the Senate approves Magu after initially rejecting him, the Executive, the Senate, the anti-corruption campaign and the Department of State Services (DSS) may face credibility problems since the allegations against Magu have not been adequately addressed.

However, if the senate rejects Magu again, this could stoke the frosty relationship between the executive and the Senate. The same credibility crisis will face the Senate and the Executive if Babachir is allowed to stay in office unless he is sufficiently cleared of the allegations of corruption against him.

A source at the Senate said: “The Senate president is the only one who can give you details about the matter of nomination of Magu. All I can tell you is that it is true that the president has reached out to the Senate on the matter again. Not only on the nomination of Magu, he has also written another letter on the SGF. He simply wants the Senate to reconsider its stand on the two.”

It was learnt that Buhari discussed the matter with the Senate President Bukola Saraki during their informal meetings.

Some senators who spoke on the condition of anonymity were divided in their views.

A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator from the South South said the credibility of the anti-corruption crusade was gradually being eroded by the insistence of the presidency on Magu.

He noted that all the dirty revelations that had been brought to light about Magu by the DSS were enough to make the president look for another person to replace him.

According to him, no propaganda would convince Nigerians and even the international community to have confidence in Magu again.

On what will happen should the Senate insist on not confirming Magu for the EFCC job, another lawmaker, who is an All Progressives Congress (APC) member from the North West said the upper legislative chamber might not be able to stop Buhari from having his way because he might have lobbied the leadership very well.

According to him, the scenario that has played out on Magu’s nomination is enough to show the whole world that the Buhari presidency is not a united team.

The Senate had refused to consider Buhari’s nomination of Magu as substantive chairman of the EFCC following a letter sent to it by the Director General of the DSS, Malam Lawal Daura in which Magu was alleged to have engaged in some corrupt practices.
On Babachir, the Senate had in December last year reviewed the knotty issues arising from alleged mismanagement of funds donated to the internally displaced persons in the North East and submitted that the SGF should immediately resign and face prosecution for alleged abuse of office, misappropriation of funds and inflation of contracts.

The Senate took the decision after adopting the interim report of its ad hoc committee which investigated the mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East occasioned by hunger, disease, squalor, deprivation and want amongst the lDPs.

The report which was presented by the chairman of the committee, Shehu Sani, disclosed that all contracts from the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE) were awarded under the principle of emergency situation as stipulated in Section 43 (i) & (ii), but with absolute disregard to Subsection (iii) & (iv) of the same Section 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.

The section stipulates: “All procurements made under emergencies shall be handled with explanation but along principles of accountability, due consideration being given to the gravity of each emergency; that immediately after the cessation of the situation warranting any emergency procurement, the procuring entity shall file a detailed report thereof with the bureau which shall verify same and appropriately issue a Certificate of ‘No Objection.’”

Buhari has since asked the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to investigate the allegations against the two government officials, a task which the AGF said he had completed and a report submitted to Buhari since two weeks ago.

 

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