Nigerians applaud Buhari’s sack of Lawal, Oke, want them prosecuted

Babachir Lawal
Babachir Lawal
  • Seek action on other corrupt officers in govt

Prominent Nigerians and civil society groups on Monday applauded the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and the former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke.

But they however said the sack was not enough a sanction, calling for their prosecution.

The prominent Nigerians included Senior Advocates of Nigeria, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose; the Peoples Democratic Party, the Ijaw Youth Congress, and civil society groups.

It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had sacked the two public officers on Monday.

Before the sack, the President set up a panel headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to investigate allegations of financial impropriety levelled against the two.

The panel submitted its findings and recommendations about six months ago but the President despite public criticisms failed to act on the report.

He, however, did on Monday by announcing their disengagement from service reportedly in line with the recommendations made by the panel, whose report has yet to be made public.

Reacting to the President’s action on Monday, notable Nigerians and groups said the sack was not enough, demanding more actions against the two.

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Two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Emeka Ngige and Yusuf Ali, opined that the two should be prosecuted if the Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo-led panel made such a recommendation.

They argued that doing so would give the Buhari-led administration’s fight against corruption the required boost.

Ali said, “If there is any issue of corruption or criminality, they should be prosecuted.”

Speaking in a similar vein, Ngige said, “If the VP’s panel recommended that they should be prosecuted, nobody is above the law. If there is a recommendation for prosecution, they should be prosecuted. That is the only way the President can assure the country and the international community that nobody is above the law and it is not business as usual.”

Also reacting via the telephone, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption Prof. Itse Sagay, said the sack was long overdue.

He said, “I think there has been a consensus on this, that it 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.”

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Citing examples of corruption cases that were treated with levity by the Buhari administration, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, said indicted Babachir Lawal and Ayodele Oke and others still in Buhari’s government should be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for investigation and prosecution.

He spoke through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, saying, “Enough of using probe panels to shield people accused of corruption in Buhari’s government; rather, they should be arrested, detained and prosecuted by the EFCC as being done to others perceived as the President’s enemies.”

Fayose said that apart from prosecuting the sacked officials, the report of the panel that investigated them should be made public.

Referring to similar cases, Fayose said, “Nigerians are interested in the full details of the report on the $43m discovered in an apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos. The report should be made public.

“They also want to know what happened to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu’s allegations of award of $25bn contracts without following due process against the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr Maikanti Baru.

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“Nigerians are interested in the report of the panel that looked into the Department of State Service investigation that indicted Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, of corruption.

“They want to know why the former Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, who was accused of corruption by the Senate, removed from office unceremoniously and declared wanted is now the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, Lagos.”

He said the FG should explain the appointment of Ahmed Gambo Saleh, the Supreme Court Registrar who was indicted and put on trial for the alleged N2bn fraud as the Secretary of the National Judicial Council and the Corruption and Financial Crime Cases Trial Monitoring Committee.

“Most importantly, Nigerians are not carried away by the sacking of Babachir Lawal and Oke.

“Rather, they want to know what President Buhari has done to those behind the fraudulent reinstatement of Maina since the report on the reinstatement was submitted last week Tuesday as directed by the President.”

Similarly, the President of the Ijaw Youth Congress Worldwide, Mr. Perotubo Oweilaemi, said, “I urge Mr. President to go beyond sacking them. They should be prosecuted in a competent court of law.”