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Grass-cutting contract: Osinbajo’s panel grills SGF, Babachir Lawal

..Reps plan independent probe on $43m loot
..Senate not happy over Osinbajo-led panel — Melaye

By Emman Ovuakporie, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Joseph Erunke

ABUJA —Suspended Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, David Babachir Lawal, was, yesterday, grilled by Presidential panel investigating the $43 million cash found in a luxury apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, and the N220 million meant for welfare of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in North-East.

His appearance before the panel, led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, came barely 24 hours after Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ambassador Ayodele Oke, was grilled for over eight hours by the panel.

The SGF was quizzed on a day indications emerged that the House of Representatives may conduct an independent investigative hearing into the cash haul found in the Ikoyi apartment.

Yemi Osinbajo

Also, Senator Dino Melaye has said the Senate was not happy with the setting up of  Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led presidential panel by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate allegations of misuse of funds meant for Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the North-East.

It was gathered that the SGF was asked to explain his role in the management of finances meant for IDPs in Borno State, under the auspices of the Presidential Initiave for the North East, PINE.

Lawal had arrived the Presidential Villa, venue of the panel’s sitting, at about 1pm and was questioned for about two and half hours.

Emerging from the meeting at 3:25pm, Lawal was seen walking around the lobby upstairs at Osinbajo’s office, apparently searching for someone, pulled out his cell phone and made some calls.

Lawal, who was casually dressed, spotting a coffee brown, safari native dress, was later seen descending the stairs, fiddling with his phone in company of two aides, a policeman in uniform clutching a bulky file and another in mufti, following behind.

After about 30 minutes of the suspended SGF’s exit from the premises, our correspondent sighted the duo of AGF and NSA walking side-by-side at the lobby upstairs into another office.

Reps plan independent probe on $43m loot

Meanwhile, indications emerged, yesterday, that the House of Representatives may conduct an independent investigative hearing into the $43.4 million found in an apartment in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.

It was gathered that the leadership of the House has already endorsed a motion of urgent national importance on resumption from the Easter break.

A source privy to this development said:  “The motion would have been considered on Tuesday (yesterday) but for the death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke. The House may adjourn plenary till Wednesday (today), after which the motion will be considered, considering its importance to the economy.

“It’s a national issue that should not be left to the Executive arm, since we have the statutory backing to expose and investigate corruption as enshrined in section 88(2a) and section 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended),”

Senate not happy over Osinbajo-led panel — Melaye

Melaye said the setting up of another committee by the president was not only a duplication of the work of the existing Senate committee constituted to that effect but also showed the president still had no confidence in what the Senate was doing in that regard.

Melaye, who hailed the suspension of the government scribe by the president, however, said the setting up of the board of enquiry by the president was not necessary, since the Senate committee set up for the same purpose was working to conclude its report.

But the senator, who represents Kogi West Senatorial District, said in spite of the president’s action, the  committee was going ahead with its ongoing investigation of expenditure of the funds, with a view to submitting same to the president for necessary action.

Senator Melaye,who spoke to Vanguard in Abuja ,on last week’s suspension of the SGF, David Babachir Lawal and subsequent setting up of panel by the president, insisted that the president’s action was an indication that he had no confidence in what the Senate was going.

Melaye,who said although the Senate was happy over the move by the president to know the state of expenditure of the funds, however, insisted that   it was not necessary setting up another panel.

He hinted that in spite of what the panel would do,the Senate Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis,led by Senator Shehu Sani, which interim report led to the action, would continue its work to logical end.

“In as much as the Senate is happy that the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr David Babachir Lawal has been suspended to pave way for thorough investigation,we are not happy that another panel was set up by the president to look into allegations of mismanagement of resources meant for the IDPs in the North East.

“Our grouse is that the Senate panel which interim report led to this is still doing its work and as we resume from this Short break,we hope to see the committee not only conclude its work but submit same to the Senate in plenary.

“We intend to submit the report   to the president who had queried in his recent letter to us that the report which alleged mismanagement of funds by the SGF was just an interim one,”he said.


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