Nigerians are starting to react after yesterday’s sack of ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, and ex-National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Director-General Ayo Oke
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called for the prosecution of the duo. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) feels President Muhammadu Buhari has done what is expected of him. But like the PDP, activists believe the duo should be properly investigated and prosecuted.
A statement yesterday by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, accused Buhari of double standard in the anti-corruption war by shielding his aides and associates from prosecution while haunting opposition figure over alleged corruption.
Describing the sacking of Babachir and Oke as a slap on the faces of Nigerians, the PDP insisted that they be handed over to the existing anti-corruption agencies for investigation and prosecution.
The PDP said: “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.
“First and foremost, we had disagreed with the President last year when he decided to setup the panel headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to investigate the matter because we thought that was the wrong course of action to take.
“Ordinarily, cases of corruption or alleged cases of misappropriation of funds are supposed to be referred to institutions that are saddled with the responsibility to investigate and prosecute such matters, which is the ICPC and the EFCC if there is any prima facie case against them.
“But it appears not all animals are equal under the Buhari APC administration. Some people are treated with kid gloves while others, particularly those in opposition are subjected to all manner of harrowing experiences.
“One of the senators of the APC, Senator Shehu Sani of Kaduna State, succinctly put the matter when he said that this administration uses deodorant to fight corruption when it comes to some APC members and President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet, but uses insecticides when it involves members of the opposition and those in the National Assembly”.
The opposition party wondered why it took the President almost one year to attend to the two cases while the culprits were having a field day at home and enjoying themselves.
“Whereas, in the case of the opposition, especially PDP members, even when the evidence is flimsy, they will be visited with multiple harassment and intimidation for months and weeks without proper trial.
“We cite the case of Sambo Dasuki who has been in detention for over two years even when many courts in Nigeria and the ECOWAS Court have ordered his release, the President has fragrantly disobeyed these court orders which again are a violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This is an impeachable offence. So the President cannot just sack Ayo Oke and Babachir Lawal and expects us to be clapping for him.
“We believe that we are operating under a democracy and a Constitution that governs our affairs. To have subjected these people to different sets of rule and treatment is totally unacceptable.
“Nigerians are the same under the law and Babachir Lawal and Ayo Oke should not be tried by the Presidency while others are hounded by the EFCC and ICPC.
“These actions of Mr. President are therefore a breach of his oath of office, which he swore to defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to be fair and just to all Nigerians without any discrimination whatsoever.
“The action of the President is a gross violation of his constitutional oath and therefore constitutes a veritable ground for impeachment Using and applying different laws to different people in the country is a direct assault on the constitution and the rule of law .
“Consequently, we call on the National Assembly to begin processes to impeach the President for breach of the Constitution and fragrance disobedience to the laws of Nigeria.
“We totally reject these actions and the law should follow its full course on the issues of these officers. In other words, their case should be referred to the EFCC for proper investigation and trial, more so when the President has not told us what the report of the findings was,” the statement added.
The party argued that Nigerians have the right to know the findings of the Osinbajo panel that investigated Lawal and Oke and insisted that the report should be made public.
“The President has by his actions taken Nigeria to the level of a banana republic. We are not in a banana republic. This is the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Three successive governments of the PDP did not act in the manner President Buhari is acting.
“There is no doubt that the sudden sack of the SGF and the DG of NIA is just a consequence of the backlash on the Abdulrasheed Maina saga.
“Up till now, there’s no answer to the pertinent questions we have asked on the Maina saga. The government cares less about the feelings and opinions of Nigerians. This kind of arrogance is unprecedented in the history of this county.
“We again call for the arrest and investigation of the two Ministers involved in the return of Maina into the civil service, that is, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau and Abubakar Mallami , the Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice,” the party said.
APC: we’re vindicated
The APC said yesterday that the sack of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation has vindicated the party.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said: “Few days ago when the President directed the dismissal of Abdulrasheed Maina, some people say that is right but what about the suspended SGF, BD Lawal but we as a party said ‘look, the President is the only person who has all the information. All of us can only have one side of the story or the other’.
“But the President by the virtue of the position he occupies is the only one who has all the information and he would do what is necessary at the right time; now we have been vindicated and it shows that the President has not in any way waivered in his commitment not to tolerate corruption at any level no matter who is involved.”
Babachir ‘s sack long overdue, says Sagay
The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay, said the sack of the suspended SGF was long.
Sagay said “I think there has been a consensus on this and that was overdue. There has been too much delay. Although I will like to put a caveat that government usually has 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.
“Boss Mustapha has a very long history of political activities and my impression on him is that, apart from being a lawyer with a very good reputation in terms of integrity, he has always been a consistent person in whatever course he pursues. So, I think that we should okay at it as a positive development.”
SERAP asks Buhari to handover Lawal, Oke to EFCC, ICPC
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has welcomed the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the suspended Secretary to Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Mr Ayodele Oke.
The organisation also called on Buhari to “urgently handover Lawal and Oke to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for further investigation, and if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence, for them to face prosecution.”
In a statement today by SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale, the organisation said: “This is a positive development in the fight against grand corruption, although this decision is coming rather late. Buhari now has to go a step further by making sure that both Lawal and Oke are promptly brought to justice in fair trials.”
The statement reads: “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.”
“What the government needs at this time is a revolutionary approach to the fight against corruption if Buhari is to show his commitment to ‘kill’ corruption before corruption ‘kills’ Nigeria.”
“Without effective prosecution of high-ranking public officials charged with corruption, this government’s fight against corruption may sadly turn out to be all motion and no movement, and this will eventually undermine the legitimacy of the anticorruption efforts.”
In a brief statement today the presidency said that President Muhammadu Buhari has studied the report of the panel headed by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), which investigated allegations against the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and the Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayodele Oke.
The statement noted that the president accepted the recommendation of the panel to terminate the appointment of Mr. Lawal, and has appointed Boss Mustapha as the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
HURIWA seeks the arrest of Lawal, Oke
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) yesterday called on Buhari to order the arrest of Lawal and Oke.
In a statement signed by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA also criticised the President for failing to use the sacking of the erstwhile SGF to balance the ‘clear lopsidedness’ in the composition of his cabinet.
The group said: “Let all the credible Non-governmental bodies come together as a coalition of patriots to set up effective monitoring mechanisms to ensure that all the relevant law enforcement institutions are compelled to do the needful in this instance and not be allowed to deliberately undermine or destroy the prosecution of these two powerful former presidency officials.
“The erstwhile SGF is alleged to be very close to the acting chairman of EFCC because the EFCC acting Chairman has been sighted in the Maitama residence of the now sacked SGF Babachir Lawa.”
Oshiomhole hails appointment of SGF
Former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole has described the newly appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, as one of the engine rooms of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the 2015 presidential election.
Oshiomhole said the appointment of Mustapha came at a time when the APC and government were making efforts to re-tool the system for enhanced service delivery to the people.
He said: “Mr. Boss Mustapha saw the entire processes of the formation of the party, electioneering and management of all the factors that led to the victory of the party at the 2015 General elections.
“He is not just a seasoned party man who understands the dynamics of party management but also very much abreast with governmental administration and responsibilities.
“As a calm, collected and silent organiser, he is very much at home with all the critical elements of the party and knows how to coordinate effortlessly without carrying any air around himself. His appointment would no doubt rekindle the strong determination of the present APC government in delivering the dividends of democracy for the good of all.
“Mr. Boss Mustapha is coming into this job with a lot of experience in administration and management. He will no doubt be a huge resource and engine room for the APC-led Federal Government. I wish to record my congratulations on this appointment which I consider as a square peg in a square hole.”