SGF Babachir Lawal to shun Senate on Thursday Over Alleged Fraud and goes to Court

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The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David- Lawal, on Wednesday informed the Senate that he will not appear before the committee probing his alleged involvement in the diversion of funds for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East.

The SGF was invited by the Senate ad-hoc Committee investigating the Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East to appear before it on Thursday.

At its sitting on October 4, 2016, the Senate debated a motion “Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East,” and a committee was constituted to investigate the matter.

The committee was asked to conduct a public hearing on the matter in order to ascertain how much has been released to the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).

It was also to ascertain how the funds have been utilized from inception as well as to investigate the alleged diversion of grains and other food items from the strategic grain reserves, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other sources of support for the IDPs.

The committee held a three- day public hearing between December 6 and 8 last year.

Some invited stakeholders reportedly refused to attend the hearing.

The SGF, who was specifically indicted by the committee in its interim report, claimed that he was not given a fair hearing on the matter.

Lawal was alleged to have misapplied billions of naira meant for the care of displaced persons in the North East.

The report also said Lawal compromised his position by allegedly awarding contracts to a company he had interest in.

Due to the perceived lack of fair hearing, the Senate mandated the ad-hoc committee to re-invite those involved in the matter.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Shehu Sani, in a statement said “in order to give them (stakeholders) a fair hearing, the committee has resolved to conduct another public hearing on the matter.”

Senator Sani’s letter to the SGF to appear before the committee was dated March 15.

But Lawal in a letter titled: “Letter of invitation” and addressed to Senator Sani told the lawmaker that he would not appear before the committee because he had gone to court to challenge his invitation.

The Lawal’s letter obtained by our reporter read in part, “Dear Distinguished Senator Shehu Sani,

“Your letter of invitation to appear before the above committee refers.

“I wish to kindly request that you draw the attention of other members of the committee that I will not be able to appear before the committee primarily because I have gone to court to challenge the invitation among others.

“Please find attached the court documents.

Please accept my highest regards.

“Engr, Babachir David Lawal.”

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