Thursday, 11 May 2017

$43.4m, Contract Scam: FG Set To Replace SGF & NIA Boss

Posted By: Yusuf Alli, Abuja

Suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir David Lawal and National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director-General Ayo Oke are to be relieved of their duties, it was learnt yesterday.

This is the outcome of the probe into the isuues in which the two top government officials were involved.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo led the three-man committee that investigated the two officials. The other members are Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami and National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen. Babagana Munguno.

A massive shake-up has been planned for the NIA and the SGF’s office.

Official sources said the government would soon release the findings and recommendations of the Presidential Investigative Committee, whose report was submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari before his medical follow-up trip abroad last Sunday.

Lawal was probed for alleged N200million contract awarded to a company, Global Vision Limited, linked with him by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE) to clear “invasive plant species” (weeds) in Yobe State.

Oke is being investigated for the $43.4million recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at Apartment 7B Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.

It was gathered that the Presidency decided to drop Lawal and Oke “based on security reports and some fact-sheets” available to it.

According to the source, who pleaded not to be named, the government has started shopping for those to replace the two officials.

The source said: “There were a few administrative errors allegedly traced to the affected officers. These lapses made their return to their duty posts unlikely.

“Some of the findings by the Osinbajo Panel have also made their return impossible.

“Going by the controversy surrounding the cash haul and the PINE contracts, no serious government will reinstate such officers. Public opinion also does not favour them.”

There have been speculations that the President may not have got the panel’s report. But The Nation learnt that President Buhari got the report from the Vice President before going to the United Kingdom.

“The two leaders discussed some of the key findings and recommendations of the panel.”

Another government source spoke of the Osinbajo committee making some “far-reaching and broad recommendations”.

“The findings and the recommendations of the committee will be made public. The Presidency will ensure justice and fairness to all,” he said, also pleading not to be identified.

“The issues at stake are not about individuals but how to effect reforms in NIA and the OSGF. The Presidency will need to put some checks in the system to avoid a repeat of the challenges at hand,” he added.

Some forces are however making a strong case for the NIA DG and soft landing for the SGF.

An official said: “Everyone in the Presidency agrees that Oke’s records in NIA were outstanding and he is well-respected in the diplomatic and intelligence circles.

“No DG has performed better than Oke in the history of the NIA. The President has personal respect for him and the Vice President speaks glowingly about him.

“Since this investigation started, the government has received representations on Oke because of his diligence.

“Oke’s performance in office has put top government officials and security chiefs in a dilemma. This is someone who worked closely with former Minister of Justice Prince Bola Ajibola, former Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku, more than five ministers of Foreign Affairs and international diplomats.”

Some “administrative lapses” concerning the $43.4million were said to have been described by the Presidency as “unpardonable”.

“Some concerned security chiefs either want him retired or redeployed to a desk in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the source added.

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