5 PROBES THAT REFUSE TO GO AWAY
Plus: So many probes, not enough convictions
The same committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo probing the NIA Ikoyi cash recovery is also probing the Babachir scandal. Their reports are yet to be publicized six months after
It seems to be a season of probes, with most of them remaining unsolved, and gaping like open sores. From corruption-based ones, to those hinging on administrational malfeasance, the varieties abound.
Is NNPC’s $25bn contract an oily issue?
The public spat between the Minister of State for Petroleum Ibe Kachikwu and the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Maikanti Baru led the Senate on October 4 to set up an ad-hoc committee to probe allegations of corruption against Baru.
Kachikwu had accused Baru of awarding $25bn worth of contracts in the NNPC without following due process.
When Senate President Bukola Saraki constituted the ad-hoc panel last week, following a resolution of the Senate and public outcry over the award of the alleged contracts, the committee was given four weeks to submit its report.
The Senate also charged the nine-member committee to investigate a letter written by the Minister of Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, to President Muhammadu Buhari accusing Baru of abuse of office, other illegal actions and insubordination.
The latest $25bn contract controversy is coming on the heels of allegation by a former Governor of the CBN, now-Emir of Kano Sanusi that about $20 billion oil money was missing from the NNPC.
This was followed by Chukwuma Soludo, Sanusi’s predecessor’s accusing the managers of the NNPC of misappropriating over N30trn of public funds, including several billions in oil money.
Unhealthy goings-on at NHIS?
The July 6 suspension of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Dr Usman Yusuf was the climax of a feud between him and the Minister of Health Prof Isaac Adewole. The threemonth suspension was on October 6 extended indefinitely.
The Minister accused the embattled Yusuf of fraud. The suspension came weeks after the Senate launched investigations into his activities as the NHIS chief. The lawmakers accused him of “corrupt expenditure of N292 million” which he allegedly spent on healthcare training “without recourse to any appropriate approving authority.”
While he initially denied that he was suspended, he later said he would not honour the suspension and would continue to act his position. He later left the office after some days of defiance when there were reports that he may be arrested by the Police.
In a sponsored motion by Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa, he noted that Yusuf has been involved in expenditures way beyond his limit.
The House of Representatives had earlier asked the Minister to within a week reinstate Yusuf and also asked the minister to halt the re-accreditation of Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) pending the outcome of an ongoing probe of the NHIS by the House.
NIA’s $43m Ikoyi recovery
Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), acting on a tipoff on April 12, said they found $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 hidden inside an apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi.
The funds were valued at over N13 billion based on the then prevailing exchange rate set by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
But the discovery which could have been another success in the ongoing anti-corruption war of the present administration became problematic following conflicting reports about the ownership of the money.
On April 14 the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) reportedly admitted owning the money, saying it warehoused it in the Lagos apartment for an operation it is conducting.
It was reported that the NIA Director General Ambassador Ayodele Oke, who was later suspended, had approached the EFCC boss Ibrahim Magu to request EFCC operatives who broke into the apartment to back down while the operation was still underway, but the EFCC boss declined his pleas.
While both chambers of the National Assembly empanel separate committees to probe the scandal, President Muhammadu Buhari on April 19 suspended Oke and ordered a full scale investigation into the discovery.
The President also set up a three-man committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, and the National Security Adviser Mohammed Babagana Monguno. The Committee was to submit its report to the president within 14 days.
When grass cut an SGF to size
Before the eventual suspension of the embattled Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir David Lawal on April 19 by President Muhammadu Buhari, the President had on January 24 written the Senate that he would not remove and prosecute Lawal as demanded by the lawmakers.
President Buhari said the SGF was not given fair-hearing before the indictment by a Senate Committee headed by Senator Shehu Sani.
The Senate had in December last year asked President Buhari to suspend Lawal and ensure his prosecution over alleged breach of Nigerian laws in handling contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).
The Senate’s call followed the interim report of its ad-hoc committee on “mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East” led by Shehu Sani which indicted Mr. Lawal for receiving N200 million contract to clear “invasive plant species” in Yobe State through a company, Rholavision Nigeria Limited. Babachir denied the allegations.
However, a presidential suspension order issued by Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina read: “President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into the allegations of violations of law and due process made against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr David Babachir Lawal, in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East, PINE. The President has also directed the suspension of the SGF from office, pending the outcome of the investigations.”
The same committee headed by Vice
The evolving saga surrounding his recall has generated controversy, with Maina presently declared wanted by the EFCC, after which he has been on the run
President Yemi Osinbajo probing the NIA Ikoyi cash recovery is also probing the Babachir scandal. Their reports are yet to be publicized six months after.
The unfolding scandal involving the controversial reinstatement of the former Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) Chairman Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina who was on Monday ordered to be sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to take down with him some aides of the president involved in the saga.
The evolving saga surrounding his recall has generated controversy, with Maina presently declared wanted by the EFCC, after which he has been on the run. He infamously, surreptitiously got reinstated and promoted to the post of a Director in the Ministry of Interior to head the HR department.
Way back in Febuary 2013, former President Goodluck Jonathan directed the then Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Isa Bello Sali, to immediately commence disciplinary action against Maina for absconding from duty after which Maina was declared wanted by the Nigeria Police over alleged misappropriation of N195 billion pension funds.
In June of 2016, Maina disclosed that he had been cleared by the senate of the alleged N195bn pension theft, adding that the senate discovered that the ‘missing’ N195bn is in the government’s coffers. He later asked for an apology from both the nation and the national assembly, before he became silent and went under again. He was allegedly recalled through the office of the Head of Service, shrouded in secrecy until the news broke. The development led to the query of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF) Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita by President Buhari. She denied Maina’s reinstatement, and was directed by the president to submit a detailed report to his Chief of Staff.
The probes continue to mount, even as Nigerians wait with bated breath.