Why President has not acted on Osinbajo’s report on suspended SGF

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It’s almost two months since the panel constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the alleged corruption allegation against the suspended secretary to the government of the federation, Babachir Lawal submitted its report. The panel, headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also investigated the suspended director general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke on the ‘famous Ikoyi loot’. Lawal’s investigation was sequel to recommendations by Senate ad-hoc committee on the mounting humanitarian crisis in the northeast.

The Senate committee which was headed by Senator Shehu Sani had accused the suspended SGF of corruption. The Senate committee accused Lawal of illegally diverting funds meant for IDPs through his companies. The Presidency in a letter to the Senate cleared the SGF of all allegations saying he (Lawal) was not given an opportunity to defend himself. The Presidency thereafter suspended Lawal and constituted to investigate the matter.

“The President has also directed the suspension of the SGF from office pending the outcome of the investigations,” Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina said in a statement on Tuesday, April 19, 2017. “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,” the statement added. Two months after submission of the report to President Buhari, there has been no word on the matter. Nigerians have expressed displeasure over the perceived ‘silence’ by President Buhari since he received the report by the Osinbajo panel. Most Nigerians who spoke to feralgang accused President Buhari of insincerity in the fight against corruption. A legal practitioner, Lamidi Abubakar said the Osinbajo panel was unnecessary. Abubakar wants those accused of corruption given equal treatment irrespective of their political affiliations. “President Muhammadu Buhari should not have even constituted any other committee after the Senate investigated the matter. The President should have directed the EFCC to take up the matter. A government which claimed to be fighting corruption, the president has not made a comment on the matter. “This administration is not sincere in its fight against corruption. They should treat anyone corrupt same way that they have been treating those in the opposition,” he said.

Senator Sani likens the report by the presidential committee on the suspended SGF to a ‘bone in the throat’ of the government. “I made the reference when a letter was sent from the Presidency to the National Assembly, clearing the former SGF and even blaming us for investigating him,” he began. He continues: “I said if the letter truly came from the President, then it was very clear to us that there were double standards in the way corruption was being fought. I think one issue that has become a dilemma for this administration is how to resolve the report on the former SGF. “That report has become like a bone in the throat of the President and people in the Presidency. And when you have a bone in your throat, you have to decide whether to vomit it or flush it in. Meanwhile, leaving it there will lead to injury and whether you vomit, swallow or leave it there, there are consequences.

We did our report; the vice president – then as acting president – also did his report. It is like, now, the whole country is watching to see what the President will do about it. This is one report that has held the Presidency by the neck. I believe that the President knows it well that if there is one asset he has, it is his integrity. “I believe it is about his contribution to the success of this government, his place in this government and the fact that nobody saw it coming. Put all these together: if someone was involved in corruption and our report was enough to remove the person’s head, they didn’t need to do another one led by the Acting President; and to submit the report, it took months.

“It is like having a knife: it is easier to slaughter an enemy who did wrong than to slaughter a friend who committed the same offence. What is happening is like the President has a sword, which he uses to behead people he does not know who committed offences. Now, he has the same sword with him to behead the person he knows, and the whole world is watching,” he added. Meanwhile, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), Itse Sagay, has admitted that President Buhari has been slow on acting on corruption allegations against suspended SGF and Oke.

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