At the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, we believe in equity and justice. As an anti-corruption advocacy group, our number one agitation is for thoroughness in the process of unraveling the mystery surrounding this lump sum that has become object of controversy in recent time.
While we commend the action of the Federal Government for showing interest in tackling corruption by suspending the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Babachir Lawal and the Director General, DG of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, we will sound a note of warning that ample seriousness should be injected into the process. Yes, the AGF has not really impressed many Nigerians by his shoddy handling of issues concerning the issue of the SGF in the past, especially in his conclusions that misled the presidency to believe that Babachir Lawal was not given fair hearing by the Senate committee.
This is where it was of public knowledge that Lawal only sent his secretary to the senators when he was invited and when given the second opportunity, he went to obtain court injunction against Senate invitation. It is our belief that if Babachir has any good defense for his action he would have been in a hurry to meet with the Senate committee to clear his name. But we think this is another chance for the AGF to redeem his image by proving critics wrong that he is capable of doing thorough job.
Nigeria is passing through a period where it is very difficult to trust public officials with accountability and fair play, particularly when money is involved. So, for the AGF to really restore his deserved respect among Nigerians, he must go the whole hog to ensure nothing is left undone to get to the root of this matter and ensure that no criminal is allowed to succeed in evading the cause of justice, even if it entails encouraging the FG to reassemble more credible Nigerians to join him as think-tank in his functions with a view to securing the best results.
But by and large, the body language we are getting from the FG of recent is of a government now buckling down to serious business. We trust that the Vice President, as a man of proven integrity himself, must have assembled a team he believed would midwife foolproof investigation and come up with impeccable findings. The country is at the edge of a precipice and I don't think this government has the time to elongate keeping those who are not in same spirit with it in office.
There's no need for the Yemi Osinbajo’’s Panel since the agencies established by the Nigerian laws are available and capable of handling the cases at hand.
The trio of VP, CJN, NSA all have works of national importance to do; the VP for example has a lot of executive roles to play in supporting the President who is aged and canmot do much runnings around; while the AGF has a lot of work to do prosecuting cases for the FG, supervising the Anti- Corruption Agencies and other Law Enforcement bodies too and advising the executive on legal cum judicial issues. The NSA on the other hand has a lot of security issues to monitor and tackle like the Boko-Haram insurgency, Southern Kaduna killings, Militancy in NigerDelta, Ogun and Lagos States, Herdsmen invasion of several communities and several other security issues he needs to monitor and advise the FG on.
However, while we hopeful of a thorough job, we will call on government not to delay in dispensing justice when the crimes are established by the first-instance detectors; in this case, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Crimes, ICPC for the former SGF and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for the former DG NIA.
For instance, the case of Ambassador Femi Oke is both an Economic and a Financial Crime, so his case is expected to be transferred to the EFCC. The money he claimed belonged to the NIA, is not in the know of the President who is the chief security officer of the Federal Republic, it was not brought to the notice of the NSA whose duties include advising the relevant security agencies on how to handle security issues especially how one agency will not thwart "covert operations" of the other if such is of importance to the security of the Federal Republic neither do CBN, EFCC and even members of the NIA with which the former NIA boss hold meetings on regular basis.
By hoarding money (both local and Foreign currencies)Oke I deemed to have committed a form of Economic Sabotage as he has denied people who need money for legitimate business access to fund. Keeping government money in his wife's private apartment is financial crime for which we believe he and his wife, who is not a staff or operative of NIA as well as his other accomplices, which may include past president and staffers of CBN who could have aided illegal access of Mr Oke to mint fresh local and foreign currencies, should also be invited, interrogated and if necessary, prosecuted and adequately punished to serve as deterrent to others of their ilk.
Babachir Lawal's case on the other hand should be handed to the ICPC because his case bothers on Conflict of Interest,
nepotism and misappropriation of Funds. He should have no business awarding any contract at all not to talk of doing such for his own company at immorally inflated costs thus compounding the debilitating situations of the IDPs who the PINE project was meant to salvage. His action should be deemed as war crime or man inhumanity to man.
The Presidency should not use bureaucracy of the panel to buy time for these suspected Criminals of the Federal Republic to perfect their strategies of evading justice nor give anyone a softlanding benefits. If such is the reason for Osinbajo panel, it will rubbish the whole anti-corruption fight that the Buhari-led Administration is known for as well as the name and records the President, Vice-President and other cabinet members involved have built for themselves over the years.
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