Almost five months after the Senate called for the sack and prosecution of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal, over allegations of financial impropriety, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday suspended the SGF indefinitely.
The president also ordered an investigation into the allegations of violations of law and due process against Lawal in the award of contracts as the Chairman of the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).
The president also ordered a full scale investigation into 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, on which the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has made a claim.
Consequently, the president directed the suspension of the Director General of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, pending the outcome of the investigation.
A three-person committee comprising the Attorney-General of the Federation, the National Security Adviser, and headed by the Vice President, is to conduct both investigations. The committee is to submit its report to the President within 14 days. The most senior Permanent Secretary in the SGF’s office, and the most senior officer in the NIA, are to act, respectively, during the period of investigation.
The embattled DG of NIA, Oke was said to have betrayed emotion yesterday as he made desperate attempts to enter the Presidential Villa, Abuja shortly after his suspension was announced.
Oke who attempted to seek an audience with Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo but was turned back also made frantic efforts to avoid journalists. In the process, he was driven towards the Service Chiefs’ Gate from where he was turned back.
Meanwhile, Babachir Lawal held a closed-door meeting with Osinbajo following his suspension.
On stepping down from Osinbajo’s office, Lawal showed surprise seeing a battery of newsmen waiting for him. “419ers,” he said to Journalists apparently on a friendly note. While he continued walking out, Journalists followed suit. Asked to react to his suspension, the SGF in a voice laden with emotion said, “I am not aware”. Reminded that the Presidency had issued a statement, suspending him, Lawal who had at this time became emotional said: “Who’s presidency? Why is it that you people are struggling to take my photograph today, something that you people are not used to doing? He waited for a while before his vehicle wheeled in to whisk him away. Minutes later, the two-vehicle convoy of the suspended NIA arrived the Villa. Sighting journalists who were already waiting, the security operatives automatically devised a means to prevent him from the glare of television cameras. Providing human shield, the operatives guarded the DG, seeking an alternative route to Osinbajo’s office through the back door. Access not granted, they jumped backed into their vehicles and drove towards the Presidential forecourt through the Admin Officer’s route. For about two minutes, they got stuck at the gate with no one attending to them to open the gate. Later, the vehicles made a U-turn and drove out of the Villa. Minutes after the vehicles exited, the convoy of the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno wheeled him into the Presidential Villa. Hearing that the D-G would return to see Osinbajo, journalists stayed put outside. It took the intervention of the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina to clear them along the corridors leading to Osinbajo’s office back to the press gallery.