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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Senate further nails Babachir; wants him, others prosecuted for alleged fraud

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By Tunde Adetunji, Abuja.
Following the investigations of its Senator Shehu Sani-led Adhoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, the Senate demanded the prosecution of the suspended Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr Babachir David Lawal and others found culpable of alleged fraudulent activities in the Presidential Initiative in the North-East (PINE).
Embattled Lawal is believed to have invited the anger of the federal lawmakers because of the manner he shot down their demand for constituency projects last year; and facilitated the hounding of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, a tribunal that answers to his office.
Worse, when invited to the investigating Senate panel, he twice shunned it and made derogatory remarks about the Senate.
The lawmakers Wednesday adopted the recommendations of the panel which included `that all resources that seems to have being misapplied or stolen by public officials should be retrieved.”
Also, anyone who was found to have contravened Sections of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and the Federal Government Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to the awards of contracts in the north east should be dully prosecuted by the relevant authorities.
Sani said further in the report he read to his colleagues: “Since all the contracts awarded by PINE were awarded under the principle of emergency situation, PINE should forward a detailed report of all contracts awarded by it to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) in accordance with section 43(4) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
“That since it was observed that there was no Bill of Quantities on most of the contracts awarded by PINE under the emergency situation, the BPP should undertake re-evaluation of all of such contracts to recover any proceeds from the over inflated contracts.”
He added that relevant government organs should ensure that contracts partially executed but fully paid for, must be completed or a refund made.
“The committee is of the opinion that Mr Lawal has contravened the provision of part one of the fifth schedule of the 1999 constitution, the Public Procurement Act 2007 and the breech of oath of office as SGF and so should be disciplined by the relevant authority.
“The committee also recommends that further investigations by relevant agencies of government as to why contracts benefiting companies spread over 500 million naira into Rholavision Engineering account a company in which Mr Lawal has interest.
“The issue of many out of school children among the IDPs as a result of poor educational facilities is a sign that concerted efforts should be made by both the states and Federal Governments of the North-East to provide conducive learning atmosphere for the children of the IDPs.
“The Senate do condemn the failure of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the National Communication for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons that are critical to the emergency management to appear before the committee despite several invitations.”
Contributing, Senator George Sekibo called in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  (EFCC).
“Is the EFCC not aware of it. Has it done anything? This is a whistle that has been blown. Money has been taken wrongly and the EFCC has not said anything. EFCC should also go into action immediately.
He added: “I commend the committee and chairman that has been so hunted and blackmailed by a lot of people. He stood his ground, went into the matter prudently and came up with this report.
“This is one of the richest committee reports that I have seen with necessary evidence,” he said.
“When you want to catch the rat that ate the yam, catch the one at home first before chasing the one outside.
“We listen to the issue of change but we find it difficult to believe because he is surrounded by so many in house rats….”
Rounding up, Senator Saraki said: “There is also a systemic issue here. One is the issue of humanitarian crises. In your observation what do you think will be able to address food shortage in the area and the issue of vaccine.
“ My concern is that going forward some of these organisations might not give us the support we require anymore.
“The quality of the report leaves nothing to debate. The fact speaks for itself. I am proud to be part of a Senate that can produce this report.We need to build from this.

Shehu Sani

“This matter needs some serious action on our part. There is also need for greater oversight because of the kind of money being spent.
“There are people underneath him that made it comfortable for him to do this. It is an indictment if the people there are not the right people.”

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