The governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose has reacted to the sack of the erstwhile secretary to the government of the federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal as well as the former director general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayodele Oke saying it was the pressure from Nigerians that finally forced President Muhammadu Buhari to act.
The two public officers were suspended from office on April 19, 2017. While Oke was suspended in connection with the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, over which the NIA made a claim, Lawal was suspended in connection with the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on North East.
After their suspension, Buhari ordered that thorough investigations be conducted on the allegations against the two top government officials.
The president therefore set up a three-man committee comprising the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN); the national security adviser, Babagana Monguno, and headed by Osinbajo.
The panel submitted its findings and recommendations about six months ago but Buhari despite public criticisms failed to act on the report.
He, however, plucked up courage to act yesterday by announcing their disengagement from service reportedly in line with the recommendations made by the panel, whose report has yet to be made public.
Speaking through his special assistant on public communications and new media, Mr. Lere Olayinka, the governor described the president’s action as an afterthought and a face-saving measure.
“What Nigerians expected from a president who rode to power on the basis of integrity, is a total cleansing of his government. It is not by setting up panel to investigate corruption allegations involving his men and reluctantly sacking a few of them.
“The president only acted because of the outcry of Nigerians, especially over the fraudulent reinstatement of the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdullahi Maina.
“Enough of using panels to shield people accused of corruption in Buhari’s government. Rather, they should be arrested, detained and prosecuted by the EFCC, as being done to others perceived as the president’s enemies.”
“Once again, Nigerians have proved that the power of the president is not greater than the people who elected him.
“Once again, Nigerians have proved that the power of the president is not greater than that the people who elected him.
“What Nigerians expected from a President who rode to power on the basis of integrity is a total cleansing of his government, not setting up panel to investigate corruption allegations involving his men and reluctantly sacking a few of them because of public outcry,” said Fayose.
Maintaining that Buhari was aiding and abetting corruption, Fayose said: “As far as I am concerned, sacking the SGF and NIA Director General is just an afterthought and it is not enough. Let them be handed over to the EFCC for prosecution just like other Nigerians that they have accused of corruption.
“Apart from prosecuting the sacked officials, Nigerians are interested in the full details of the report on the $43 million discovered in an apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos. The report should be made public.
“They also want to know what happened to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu’s allegation of award of $25 billion contracts without following due process against the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); Dr. Maikanti Baru.
“Nigerians are interested in the report of the panel that looked into the Department of State Service (DSS) report that indicted Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu of corruption. They want to know why the former Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, who was accused of corruption by the Senate, removed from office unceremoniously and declared wanted is now the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Ikoyi, Lagos.
“Also, the people are interested in the rationale behind the appointment of Ahmed Gambo Saleh; the Supreme Court Registrar who was indicted and put on trial for alleged over N2 billion fraud as the Secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee.
“Most importantly, Nigerians are not carried away by the sack of Babachir Lawal and Oke. Rather, they want to know what President Buhari has done to those behind the fraudulent reinstatement of Maina since report on the reinstatement was submitted last week Tuesday as directed by the President.
“Not until President Buhari fumigates his own bedroom and rid it of corruption, it will remain in the mindset of the people that President Buhari is aiding and abetting corruption, and only acts when it becomes difficult for him to close his ears to the outcry of Nigerians.”
Meanwhile, two senior advocates of Nigeria, Mr. Emeka Ngige and Mr. Yusuf Ali have called for the prosecution of Lawal and Oke if the Osinbanjo-led panel made such a recommendation.
Punch quoted the two lawyers as arguing that doing so would give the Buhari-led administration’s fight against corruption the required boost.
“If there is any issue of corruption or criminality, they should be prosecuted,” said Ali.
“If the vice president’s panel recommended that they should be prosecuted, nobody is above the law. If there is a recommendation for prosecution, they should be prosecuted. That is the only way the President can assure the country and the international community that nobody is above the law and it is not business as usual,” said Ngige
Also speaking, the chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption Prof. Itse Sagay, said the sack was long overdue.
“I think there has been a consensus on this, that it was overdue; there has been too much delay. Although I will like to put a caveat that government usually have a lot more information than the rest of us as the delay might have been discretionary due to the information they had. I was patient and I definitely endorse the final decision that has been taken,” he said.
Similarly, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) praised Buhari for sacking Lawal and Oke, but urged him to hand them over for further investigation.
“Buhari also has to move swiftly to publish report of investigation into the secret reinstatement of fugitive former civil servant, Abdulrasheed Maina, and without delay, identify and bring to justice anyone suspected to be involved.”
“This government now has a real opportunity to reassure a lot of Nigerians, who may be worried about the direction of travel of the President’s anti-corruption agenda that there will be no sacred cow as far as the fight against corruption is concerned,” said SERAP’s deputy director, Mr. Timothy Adewale in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the national assembly to impeach the president over the way he handled the cases involving the removal of Lawal and Oke.
The party’s spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, stated the party’s position in a statement and accused the president of double standards.
“The statement on the sacking of Babachir Lawal, the former secretary to the government of the federation and Ayo Oke, the former Director General of Nigerian Intelligence Agency is a slap on the face of Nigerians.
“It is an insult on the collective intelligence of our people who have waited patiently for the president’s reaction on the humongous act of corruption by two of his principal aides and this is totally unacceptable.”
“We had disagreed with the president last year when he decided to set up the panel headed by…Osinbajo, to investigate the matter because we thought that was the wrong course of action to take,” he said.