Denial as it may seem, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s special press statement, Tuesday, on the state of the nation, may have made the stake higher for Nigerian’s Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, to arrest and prosecute Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to Nigerian Government for alleged embezzlement of public funds.
Samin Amaddin, Acting Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, confirmed, Wednesday, that the former SGF was cooperating with investigation into alleged N223 million fraud against him. He said Babachir’s interrogation by the EFCC would continue, Thursday.
Amaddin said Lawal arrived Abuja Office of the EFCC on invitation at 11:00 am, Wednesday. He made useful statements after which he was detained.
Nigerian Senate Adhoc Committee on humanitarian crisis in connection with IDPs plight in the North East indicted Babachir for fraud in December 2016. The committee alleged that Babachir spent N570 million on grass cutting contracts awarded to his company for clearing “invasive plant species” in Yobe State, on the Presidential Initiative on Northeast, PINE.
Not satisfied with the Senate Adhoc Committee’s report, President Buhari set up a panel headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to further investigate the allegations. After foot-dragging and prevaricating on Vice President Osinbajo’s report, Buhari accepted the recommendation of the panel and terminated the appointment of Lawal Babachir in October 2016, and replaced him with Boss Mustapha as new Secretary to the Government of Nigeria.
Again, after sacking Babachir Lawal, President Buhari shut-down on extensive calls by Nigerians for the prosecution of Babachir Lawal. President Buhari was unyielding to calls for Babachir’s prosecution, while the EFCC, seemingly, was waiting for the President’s body language to determine the action to take on Babachir.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in his special press statement on the state of the nation, Tuesday, sees this and similar cases – including that of Maina — as “collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action”.
Obasanjo’s words: “But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotic deployment boarding on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court”.
Obasanjo added: “This has grave consequences on performance of his government to the detriment of the nation. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the alter of nepotic interest”. He asked: “How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public?”
Samin Amaddin, EFCC’s Acting Head of Media and Publicity had denied that Babachir’s interrogation and detention, Wednesday, had nothing with Obasanjo’s special press statement.