THE National Caretaker Committee (NCC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the setting up of a panel to investigate allegations against the suspended Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, rather than being arrested and detained as it’s done in the case of members of the opposition party.
In a statement issued by spokesman of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, in Abuja, on Thursday, it also demanded an independent commission of inquiry into the allegations.
It said: “In this context, we are alarmed at the suspension of the SGF at a time that Nigerians and the international community are excitedly enjoying the theatre of the absurd playing out with the recovery of huge sums of money without owners.
“Now the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government suddenly realised the corruption allegation levelled against the SGF; and instead of arresting and detaining him as the government has been doing to PDP members and other Nigerians, he was rather suspended and a committee set-up to investigate him. This is to say the least, double standard.”
The PDP noted that even though some Nigerians had applauded the suspension of the SGF and the DG NIA, as an indication of a new commitment by President Buhari to fighting corruption without fear or favour, it, however, pointed out that it was “another ruse to deceive Nigerians and dress up the failed anti-corruption war in a new garb.”
The statement recalled that the Senate ad hoc committee, headed by Senator Shehu Sani, investigated the expenditures and activities of the Presidential Initiative for North-East (PINE), which Lawal in his capacity as the SGF was overseeing, as well as the alarming rate of humanitarian crises in the North-East occasioned by the diversion of grains from the Strategic Grains Reserve and other food supplies meant for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in that region.
“Consequently, the Senate ad hoc committee indicted the SGF, Lawal, for the mismanagement of PINE Funds and the award of multimillion naira grass-cutting contract to one of his companies, Rholavision Engineering Limited and other ghost companies,” it stated.
The PDP observed that while the Senate recommended the resignation and prosecution of the SGF, the president swiftly cleared him in a letter to Senate dated January 17, 2017.
The party kicked against the membership in the investigation committee of the Attorney General of the Federation who wrote the initial letter clearing Lawal.
“We are at a loss why the president would set up a panel comprising members of his cabinet to investigate other senior very powerful members of the same executive. Where is the transparency in that?
“Not that we doubt the integrity of the Vice President (for whom we have the utmost respect) and other panelists, but it appears the matter is being settled within the government closet without the transparency, independence and impartiality necessary in a situation like this. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to have been done,” he said.
Their suspension, demonstration of Buhari’s corruption fight
Meanwhile, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) described Wednesday’s suspension of Lawal as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to anti-corruption fight.
National chairman of the council, Mr Muhammedu Nalado, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, on Thursday.
Nalado said the suspension of Lawal and Oke would allow for proper investigation of alleged corruption cases against them.
Nalado said if the NIA boss could be suspended, it meant that the present administration really had zero tolerance for corruption.
“The fact that it also affected the SGF shows the seriousness of the administration in fighting corruption.
“Remember that this SGF was appointed by the government of the day which has come with the aim of fighting corruption.
The chairman, however, explained that the suspension was not confirmation that the men committed the offences, adding that the measure was to allow the investigation to go without interference.
“It is a proper thing to do. People should not look at them as if they have committed the offence. After the investigation, I believe a white paper will be released and that is when people will know the fate of those suspended,” he said.