Fraud: SGF denies awarding contracts

Babachir Lawal

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David- Lawal, on Friday denied awarding any contract or abuse of his office to influence award of contracts.

In a statement by the Director (Press), Office of the SGF, Bolaji Adebiyi, all awarded contracts went through official process.

Lawal was reacting to media reports that he abused his office to award certain contracts to companies belonging to him.

The statement reads: “The attention of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has been drawn to the front page screaming headlines of The Nation and Punch newspapers of today, Friday, March 24, 2017 captioned ‘SGF to Explain how fake firms got N1.3 billion Contracts’ and ‘Grass Cutting Probe, Contracts awarded to 20 Ghost Firms – Senate Panel,’ respectively.

“First of all, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation observes that the headlines are at complete variance with the body of the story.  Indeed, in the body of the story, Senator Shehu Sani made it clear to the reporters when he said ‘Meanwhile, you should understand that we are not investigating the SGF alone.  We are investigating contracts that were awarded under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).  The implication is that PINE is really the body to answer all enquiries regarding the contract awards. Not the SGF.

“To the real and more important issue, the general public should not be misled into the believe that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has the authority or power to award contracts.  This, indeed, is not the case.  As with all awards of contract in government, the PINE projects under investigation, went through what is referred to as due process in public expenditure.

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“The contracts were awarded only after the requisite clearances were obtained from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).  It is expected that these clearances are obtained only when all conditions precedent to the awards of contracts are met.

“Apart from the BPP huddle, the Tenders Board of the procuring agencies, in this instance, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, has to approve of the contracts before they are awarded.  At no time were these processes compromised in the award of contracts by PINE.”

He also emphasized that the SGF is not even a member of the Tenders Board.

He urged the media to be mindful of the structure of government, the powers of functionaries and the stringent processes and procedures that go into public sector expenditure in order to be fair in their reports.