By Jimitota Onoyume & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA —THE Presidential Committee investigating the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and Director-General of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ayodele Oke, over allegations of corruption could not submit its report, yesterday, because it is yet to conclude the exercise.
It will turn in the report on Monday. The committee’s 14-day timeline elapsed yesterday.
This came as President Muhammadu Buhari, again, failed to attend the weekly Federal Executive Committee, FEC, meeting at the Presidential Villa, yesterday, with Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, saying the President was still resting.
Meanwhile, pioneer Director-General of the NIA, Chief Albert Horesfall, has warned that ongoing investigations of the agency has opened it to ridicule and that it would take years to win back the confidence of its external agents and other collaborators.
A statement by Mr. Laolu Akande, spokesman to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is chairman of the committee with the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, and the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Mongunu, as members, stated that the panel would round off its investigation yesterday and submit its report on Monday.
Both Lawal and Ayo had been roundly grilled by the committee since it started sitting two weeks ago.
The committee also quizzed a couple of other Nigerians fingered in the corruption saga.
Buhari stays away from FEC meeting
President Buhari, for the third consecutive time, stayed away from the FEC meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in spite of hopes that he would attend.
An official statement from the State House, last week, had said that the President was recuperating in a private residence.
However, a glimpse of hope shone when the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, and Group Managing Director, GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, emerged from the Presidential wing and briefed State House correspondents on what transpired in their respective private meetings with the President.
Speaking to newsmen after such meetings was not the favourite of both men. In the past, they have had to wave and smile at journalists who beckoned on them for interviews on coming out from the Presidential wing of the State House after such meetings.
Thus, their electing to speak to reporters raised hopes that Buhari will be at the FEC gathering.
Similarly, the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, on the same day said in tweets that her husband was not as sick as perceived and had continued to perform his responsibilities.
Yet, surprisingly, the President who was in office on Tuesday couldn’t attend FEC yesterday and like the previous times, Vice President Osinbajo presided.
Buhari still resting, not feeding through tubes—Lai Mohammed
Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, the Minister of Information said the President was still taking his rest as advised by medical doctors and commended Nigerians for their concerns and prayers for the speedy recovery of the president.
He said: “You are also aware that the President was at his office yesterday (Tuesday). A few days before now, we came out to say he’s been asked to take some rest by his doctors, and he chose today to rest and not to attend the Federal Executive Council meeting.”
Asked to react to the report that the President was being fed intravenously and how long more he needed to rest, the minister described the report as “bumkum,” saying the President will be back to office as soon as he recovers fully.
Buhari’s health won’t affect Democracy Day celebration
Mohammed also stated that the president’s ill health would not affect the celebration of two years of his government.
His words: “We’d be two years old in a few weeks time. And in our very normal customary way, we are going to mark it because we have a lot of stories to tell.”
Foreign NIA agents have been demoralised
Meanwhile, decrying the ongoing investigation of the NIA, Chief Horsfall, in an interview also described as inimical the decision of the EFCC to open up the agency’s safe house, a decision he said was wrong on the fact that whatever misgivings the anti-graft agency had should have been addressed within the confines of the administration.
He said: “This is the service that operates the intelligence of the country overseas, the country’s diplomatic intelligence service. When you invade it this way, you expose it to ridicule, the myth around it will be gone. When you invade it, you demoralise them.”