By Naomi Sharang
Abuja, Jan. 24, 2017 (NAN) The Presidency on Tuesday said that the report of the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East “lacked the principle of fair hearing”.
The Senate report indicted the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal.
This is contained in a letter from the presidency to the Senate, which was read by the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, at plenary.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the call for Lawal’s resignation followed alleged contravention of the provisions of Public Procurement Act and the Federal Government Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to award of contracts by the committee.
The letter reads: “I am of the view that by other considerations that may arise as a result of subsequent investigation of Babachir by the interim Ad Hoc Committee, the current report does not meet the principles of fair hearing.
“You are invited to note that none application of principles of fair hearing by the Senate Ad Hoc Committee is a clear contravention of Section 36 Sub-section (1) of the 1999 Constitution.
“It is also against all principles of rule of law as enunciated in the Nigerian Legal System as well as the rules of the National Assembly Committees on handling of public petitions.
“In the light of the foregoing, I am not able to approve the recommendation to remove and prosecute Babachir on the basis of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee Report dated 15th December 2016.’’
The letter explained that on receipt of the letter from the Senate, the Presidency set up a review team to consider the recommendations of the senate committee.
“I had also conducted further investigation based on Babachir’s response to the allegations and issues raised in the Senate’s resolution,” the letter said.
President Muhammadu Buhari also said that some of his findings would guide the Senate in the proper review of its interim report and eventual resolution.
According to him, some of the findings include the report forwarded to the presidency by the Senate which informed the decision that Babachir should resign and be prosecuted by the relevant authority, is an interim report as against the final report.
“The final report ought to have been presented to the Senate at plenary for adoption as a binding and final report before submission to the Presidency given the weight of allegations made in the report.”
“The Senate Committee set up to investigate the mounting humanitarian crisis in the North-East comprised of nine members but shows that the interim report was signed by only three of the nine members.
“I have also observed that the Senate Ad Hoc Interim Committee Report and the votes and proceedings of the Senate have not in its own right established that Lawal Babachir was ever given an opportunity to appear before the committee and defend himself,” the letter read in part.
In his submission, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, Sen. Shehu Sani, said that “I stand by the report of that committee.
“As far as I am concerned, on behalf of myself and the committee, what we did was a thorough job, we invited all the companies concerned, we invited the SGF and he sent us the Secretary of the Presidential Initiative on the North East.
“The secretary testified under oath that he is competent enough, he came with tons and tons of documents which we went through and then we came out with our report.”
He said that “we must in every respect fight corruption within the kitchen as we do in the veranda; if we don’t do that then we are being hypocritical”.
In a remark, the President of the Senate, Saraki said that in line with the Senate rules there would not be further debate on the matter.
Meanwhile, Senate Spokesman, Sen. Sabi Abdullahi, while briefing the press after plenary said that the document that was laid by the committee chairman was signed by seven people.
“To that effect the question as to not giving fair hearing, we have. It is in the character of the Senate to invite people by both public notification and by communication,” Abdullahi said.