By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – SOME members of the House of Representatives yesterday commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. David Babachir Lawal over the allegation of corruption in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East, PINE, and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, over the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies in a residential apartment at Osborne a Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos State.
The lawmakers said it was an indication that there was no sacred cow in the fight against corruption, but they also advised the President to extend such suspension to the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu and serving ministers that have been accused of corruption.
In his reaction to the suspension, the member representing Ivo/Ohazara/Onicha Federal Constituency of Ebonyi State, Linus Okorie, told the president to summon the same political will in suspending the EFCC Chairman, Magu.
He said, “I think that it is always better late than be late in all matters including administration problem. It has long been established that Mr. President should have taken strong action if he had any intention to strengthen the fight against corruption the way we were told it should be.
“The suspension of the SGF is based on the numerous report and investigation that the senate conducted which pointed to the fact of obvious indictment in the north east fund. Now that he has come out to suspend him and also suspend the DG of NIA who also has a lot of explanations to make with the issue of Ikoyi towers fund.
“One is so hoping that the matter of EFCC will also get his immediate attention because irrespective of what we do if Nigerian confidence is not built in the institution of EFCC as the purveyor and chief prosecutor of the anti-corruption campaign, we will still be failing in that regard.
“It does not matter whether Magu is corrupt or not but the notion out there is that he has questions to answer.
“I am calling on Mr. President to promptly also direct that Ibrahim Magu also goes on suspension so that the same investigations that he ordered into these two can also be conducted and if at the end of the day you find him not wanting in any regard, then he comes back to his job.
“So, I commend Mr. President for this action even though belated, but I also call on him to summon the necessary political will to also do the same thing with respect to Magu, with respect to all the ministers that have also been so fingered in this allegations of corruption in that regard.
“And when that is done, Nigerians will find more confidence in the declared war against corruption and be sure that it is not just focused on the opposition and the former elements of the past government.”
In his own reaction, House Committee Chairman on Health Services, Rep Chike John Okafor, said the suspension showed that there was no sacred cow.
According to Okafor, “In the first instance, the appointments and positions that they occupied was at the prerogative of the president, so the president has the right to hire and fire, so he exercised that constitutional right.
“The second aspect of the suspension which bothers on corruption and investigation. For instance the SGF is based on investigation and the NIA has to do with the money discovered in the apartment in Ikoyi.
“Mr. President is suspending them and setting up a committee to investigate them, that tells you the President’s commitment to fighting corruption. Those who are complaining hitherto that the fight against corruption is selective and only the opposition people that are being hounded, they can now shut their mouths up.
“If the Secretary to the government of the Federation and the DG NIA can be suspended on corrupt related matters, that tells you that there are no sacred cows as far as the president’s commitment on corruption is concerned.
“In this regard, the president has shown his uncompromising commitment to fight corruption. It is a welcome development. That should send shiver down the spine of every other person, every other Nigerian, every other political office holder who may want to engage or involve himself on corrupt practices that there is no sacred cow.
“And nominating the Vice President to chair the committee and give them 14 days to carry out the assignment, that underscores the high level commitment. Of course we all know how impeccable the Vice President is which means the President wants to know the truth of the situation.”
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