With a straight face and slight irritation, suspended Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Baabachir Lawal, stepped out of a closed-door meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and told reporters he was unaware of his suspension.
And then reporters were regaled by the drama of attempted “escape” from their prying eyes by suspended top spook, Ayodele Oke, the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Oke had claimed in curious circumstances that the $43 million, £27,000 pounds, and N23 million found in a luxury apartment on Osborne road, Ikoyi, belonged to his agency for projects long approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Who announced it?” was Lawal’s first reaction when journalists confronted him in the Villa over his suspension.
And when informed that Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, issued the statement of his suspension, he retorted, “I have not seen it. I should have been given. I have not seen the press release, so I cannot comment on it.”
Avoiding reporters, the NIA boss attempted to escape using the Vice President’s gate, he was stopped by presidential guards; at the Service Chief’s gate, he was also turned back.
After he managed to leave the Villa, there were whispers that he did not see Professor Osinbajo, but there was no independent verification of the information.
Lawal has been having a running battle with the Senate over his management of hundreds of millions of Naira meant to meet the needs of the North East ravaged by insurgency. At the onset of the disagreement with the National Assembly, the President backed him.
The presidential support led to a lacerating attack on President Buhari by a fellow All Progressives Congress Senator, Shehu Sani, who accused the President of double standards.
Earlier Wednesday, Femi Adesina announced the suspension of Lawal and Oke.
The statement he issued reads in full:
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into the allegations of violations of law and due process made against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr David Babachir Lawal, in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).
The President has also directed the suspension of the SGF from office pending the outcome of the investigations.
In a related development, the President has ordered a full scale investigation into the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, over which the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has made a claim.
The investigation is also to enquire into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds, how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA, and to establish whether or not there has been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.
The President has also directed the suspension of the Director General of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, pending the outcome of the investigation.
A three-man Committee comprising the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the National Security Adviser, headed by the Vice President, is to conduct both investigations.
The Committee is to submit its report to the President within 14 days.
The most senior Permanent Secretary in the SGF’s office, and the most senior officer in the NIA, are to act, respectively, during the period of investigation.