Grass-cutting probe: SGF makes U-turn, asks Senate to reschedule appearance …Lawal awarded contracts to 20 ghost firms, says probe panel

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal, has made a U-turn on his legal action against the Senate on its probe into the alleged management of funds meant for the rehabilitation of the North-East.

Lawal has urged the Senate to reschedule his appearance before its Ad Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East which is carrying out the investigation.

The SGF, in the letter to the upper chamber on Wednesday, had said he had dragged the Senate to court over the probe.

Lawal, in the letter to the committee, said he would not appear before the probe panel today.

But in another letter dated March 22, 2017, the SGF said he would not be able to appear before the panel “primarily because of a pressing engagement of government which clashed with the date and time of the hearing.”

The Chairman, Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, Senator Shehu Sani, said the probe was not a witch-hunt against the SGF, whose office oversees the Presidential Initiative on the North-East.

He said this while addressing journalists after the plenary on Thursday, following a meeting with the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang.

Sani said, “Now, we are set to invite all those persons. It was supposed to be today but, unfortunately, it could not happen.

“Meanwhile, you should understand that we are not investigating the SGF alone; we are investigating contracts that were awarded under the PINE. And over 20 companies were involved, but something very strange is the fact that some of these companies involved in these contracts, we cannot actually trace their addresses.

“We went there but they were not there. The option before us is to either report that they are ghost companies or we keep on searching until we find them. But it is most likely that it will be easier for the camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for us to find some of these names here.”

Enang, who also spoke to journalists, said there was no rift between the legislature and the executive.

He stated, “Let me also state that the executive has great respect for the institution of the Senate and the distinguished senators themselves.

“That is why the secretary to the government personally wrote and signed, and he is requesting rescheduling of the meeting and not saying he will not come. He is requesting rescheduling and the letter has been delivered to the committee.” – -Punch.

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