SGF Lawal, NIA DG Oke Placed Under Surveillance

SGF Lawal, NIA DG Oke Placed Under Surveillance

The  embattled Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency    (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke, have been placed under surveillance, folowing their suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Daily Sun gathered that the movement of the duo are being monitored, as investigation into their cases commences.

Sources explained that the reason the Presidentcy did not give the duo prior notice of their suspension was to ensure  thorough investigation.

It was gathered that Oke was invited to the Presidential Villa, but first denied access to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, until the press release of his suspension was released. When he returned thereafter, he met with Osinbajo.

On his part, Lawal was with Osinbajo when the release on his suspension was handed to journalists.

Sources said despite the watch on Lawal and Oke  they are not under any restriction.

The SGF and Oke were suspended from office, yesterday, by President Muhammadu Buhari, who also ordered their investigation over alleged involvement in corruption.

Their suspension, which would last pending the outcome of the investigations, was contained in statement issued by the presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina.

The SGF is being investigated following allegations that he violated law and due process in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).

Global Vision Ltd., owned by the SGF, was indicted by the Senate last December  for benefiting from inflated and phantom contracts- or ones not executed at all- awarded by PINE.

Lawal’s firm allegedly got over N200 million contract to clear grass in Yobe State’s Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp.‎
The most senior Permanent Secretary in the SGF’s office, is to act during the period of investigation.‎

The President also directed the suspension and investigation of Ambassador Oke over the discovery of large amount of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, which the agency reportedly laid claim to.

The investigation would enquire into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds, how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available and to establish  whether or not there has been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.

A three-man committee comprising the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the National Security Adviser, with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as chairman, would conduct both investigations and submit its report to the President within 14 days.

Oke, who was appointed NIA DG by former President Goodluck Jonathan on November 17, 2013, hailed from Ibadan, in Oyo State.  He took over from Ambassador Ezeliel Olaniyi Oyedeji.
His suspension came three moths after his mother died.

Nigerians react

Reactions from Nigerians has shown that the suspension, particularly that of the SGF, did not come as a surprise.  Many people said the suspension ought to have been handed down before yesterday.

Speaking with Daily Sun, renowed lawyers and Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), Olisa Agbakoba, Mike Ozekhome and Sabastine Hon, as well as elderstatesman, Tanko Yakasai and former minister, Chief Segun Babatope hailed President Buhari for suspending the duo.

But Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose said the suspension was an “afterthought’ and a prelude to official cover-up.

Fayose, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Media and Public Communication, Lere Olayinka, faulted Buhari for setting up a probe panel instead of referring the matter to the “appropriate agencies.”

He said Nigerians could no longer be “deceived by a government that protects its own people whenever they are accused of corruption while ordering the DSS and EFCC to invade houses of members of opposition parties, especially those perceived as having presidential ambition in 2019 in the night to arrest and detain them indefinitely even when corruption allegations against them have not been proved.”

However, Ozekhome described the SGF and NIA DG’s suspension  as “good radiance to bad rubbish.”

According to him, “I am sure the government is beginning to listen to my critical but patriotic voice. We cannot continue to be a laughing stock in the international arena.

“The anti-corruption fight has so far been a case of defending corruption within the government’s inner circle and its very ‘Kitchen Cabinet’, decorating it with powerful sweet smelling  sasarobia perfume, while fighting that of perceived enemies and critics with powerful insecticides, pesticides and herbicides. The chicken is finally coming home to roost. I congratulate PMB on this move, even if belated.

“But, there are still more tons of petitions existing against some serving ministers and other key figures of this government, pending before the anti-graft agencies, but which have so far been carefully swept under the carpet. Let the president open the Pandora box and he will be shocked at the ugly  revelations beneath the  white sepulchre of his ruling party. The actions of the security and anti-graft agencies have constituted a great embarrassment and ridicule to Nigeria as a nation.”

Another member of the inner bar and author, Hon said the suspension was  good for the image of the administration and the president given the recent bashing of his administration’s fight against corruption.

“By their suspension, President Buhari is trying to tell Nigerians that he is still committed to the fight against corruption. Again, suspending them will make investigations unimpeded and at the end, the outcome will be acceptable to Nigerians. Anyhow one looks at it, the president has done well.”

Agbakoba also agreed that  the suspension of the SGF would make a way for allegations made against him to be investigated.

Speaking on the development, Yakasai, an elder statesman said the decision to suspend the SGF was  better late than never.

“I think that the president should from now on consider taking actions promptly when an issue of this nature comes up. I say this because this type of delay is costing the government a lot of goodwill. I would advise that in future, the president should be proactive in dealing with such issues.”

In his reaction, former minister of transport and PDP chieftain, Chief Babatope said the president’s decision was a step in the right direction. He said that the president was the head of the administration and could do anything he wanted, but in doing that, he must ensure that no innocent person suffered.

He said: “People are complaining about those that make up the committee that would probe the men, but my response to them is that it is the president’s business to choose whoever he wants to choose to head the committee.

He is permitted to do as he deems fit and I do not think we can hold him to ransom in that regards. He has taken the decision to suit the current political climate and I do think it is a step in the right direction, so he should be encouraged.”

Senator Shehu Sani, who heads the Ad-hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East which indicted the SGF lauded Buhari for taking the Senate Committee report and recommendations seriously.

“The sword of truth is not just casted and sharpened for the neck of foes but also for those of friends. Moral gallows is not just meant for a belligerent foe but for a perfidious  friend. Courage is dispensing justice, greater courage is dispensing justice against our emotions and temptation towards saving a friend. It’s easier to annihilate an adversary for a heap  of wrong than reprimand a friend for a mountain of wrong.

“It’s commendable for the President to heed the call to fumigate the throne of lice and bugs with the same ability he goes after rodents afar. The Senate and the Commitee have nothing personal against the SGF or any person affected, but we simply did our job in conformity with our constitutional responsibilities and the moral calling of our conscience. We cannot jubilate because a mighty mortal is caught in the trap of his fate; we are neither saints nor Angels, but we have a duty to raise a card a blow the whistle.”

While Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe said the suspension was long overdue, Kabiru  Marafa is of the opinion that it would  rekindle the anti-graft war.

“Once there is an allegation of impropriety at that level, there was no point making it linger for such a long time,” Enyinaya said.

“The suspension of the SGF is a step in the right direction. It goes to show that the confidence Nigerians have in him is not abused. It means there is no sacred cow in President Buhari’s administration.

“The SGF had to step outside for him to be investigated. Nobody is saying that the SGF is guilty. But in the principle of fairness, he had to step aside for a proper investigation to be carried out.

“At the end of the day, the report of the investigation will be submitted to President Buhari for deliberations and consideration.

That is when we will know the actual punishment. It is a bright day for democracy in Nigeria”,  said Marafa said.

For the Edo State Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Godwin Erhahon, the suspensions “is a demonstration of the fact that Buhari has nothing to hide.

The Edo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), hailed the suspension, but faulted the constitution of the probe panel.

“Why Mr. President has decided to use an unknown body that lacks investigative knowledge and skill baffles me. I want to believe this presidency doesn’t still believe in the doctrine of 97 per cent and 5 per cent.  All citizen, friends and foes should be treated exactly the same way. We cannot have one rule for APC and another for the rest of us,” said the PDP spokesman, Chris Nehikhare.

A lawyer, Olayiwola Afolabi said for the president to have moved against members of his government was a proof that he was neutral and  committed to fighting corruption.

This is even as the embattled Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, said Buhari must go beyond the suspension of the two official stressing that “more more heads must roll.”

The Sun