Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has queried the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal over alleged fraud at the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE).

Our reporter gathered that the AGF sent the query as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the SGF has already responded.

An official at the office of the SGF, who did not want his name in print, told our correspondent that “the SGF had replied the query. He attached some documents in his reply and was done before the expiration of time given to him by the query.”

President Buhari had directed the AGF to query Babachir Lawal and the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu over allegations of fraud levelled against them by the Senate.

Our reporter also gathered that the AGF is presently reviewing the responses by Magu and the SGF.

The SGF ran into a storm of corruption allegations over the N2.5 billion Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) contracts.

The Senate ad-hoc committee on mounting crisis of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North east had accused the SGF of several misdeeds including failing to account for N2.5 billion PINE funds and awarding contracts to his friends and cronies, some of whom turned around and paid kickbacks into his company’s accounts.

Interim report of the committee alleged that as of the time the contract was awarded in March 2016, Babachir Lawal was still the director of Global Vision and that he just resigned in September, and that it would provide evidence against Babachir to President Buhari.

The Senate resolved that he should resign and face prosecution.

Some workers told our correspondent that the SGF has not been attending to files as expected after his indictment by the Senate.

Yobe State government officials also said the PINE contracts, allegedly for clearing invasive grass species and building temporary IDP shelters, were not executed.

In his first reaction to the scandal Babachir told our reporter on telephone that: “I can recognise a vendetta and a witch hunt when I see one. So I am wondering if I should bother myself about it at all. You may wish to know that I was never invited to the hearing. So the Senate has an agenda best known to its leaders.”

He added: “Corruption is fighting to drag all good men down to its muddy, slimy level. Many of those calling for my resignation are very good customers of EFCC, ICPC and the Courts but are still sitting smugly in their Senate seats.”

Also speaking to reporters after addending an event at the Presidential Villa, Babachir said: “The Senate is talking balderdash. It has developed the habit of Bring Him Down syndrome. Nigerians have decided that we should destroy our best. We should all destroy the promising and best among us by bringing people down without a cause. This is just how I saw it.

“I have the report of the Senate Committee in which it was said that I didn’t resign from Rholavision Nigeria Limited. Let me tell you, Rholavision was formed by me in December 1990 and it has been a company that was run very successfully. Now, when I was appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation I resigned from that company on 18th August 2015. I can see that in their report they are talking about 2016. I don’t know where they got their facts.

He said he had resigned from directorship of Rholavision when he became SGF in August 2015.

Daily Trust

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