Nige­ria’s Buhari acts on graft

The New Age (Gauteng) - - BUSINESS -

NIGE­RIA’S Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari has or­dered a probe into cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions against a se­nior civil ser­vant re­lated to the use of funds in­tended for a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in the north­east of the coun­try.

The di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Agency was also or­dered to be sus­pended af­ter the dis­cov­ery of more than $43m (R565m) in an apart­ment com­plex in Lagos in what the pres­i­dency de­scribed as a “re­lated de­vel­op­ment”.

Buhari sus­pended David Babachir Lawal, sec­re­tary to the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment, and or­dered a probe into con­tracts awarded un­der the Pres­i­den­tial Ini­tia­tive on the North East (Pine), his spokesper­son said.

Lawal, a Buhari ap­pointee, told re­porters he had not been in­formed of his sus­pen­sion un­til asked about it by the me­dia. He made no fur­ther com­ment. Pine did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Pine was set up to co­or­di­nate the gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in the north­east where 4.7 mil­lion peo­ple, many of them refugees from the Is­lamist in­sur­gency by Boko Haram, are on the brink of famine and sur­vive on ra­tions. Al­leged cor­rup­tion and mis­man­age­ment have threat­ened to in­ten­sify the sit­u­a­tion, one of the world’s largest hu­man­i­tar­ian crises, say crit­ics of the gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of the north­east.

The pres­i­dency state­ment said it had also or­dered an “in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­cov­ery of large amounts of for­eign and lo­cal cur­ren­cies” by the fi­nan­cial crimes agency in a res­i­den­tial prop­erty in com­mer­cial cap­i­tal Lagos, in what it called a “re­lated de­vel­op­ment”, with­out giv­ing fur­ther de­tails.

It said the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Agency, Nige­ria’s equiv­a­lent of the CIA, had said the money be­longed to it. It said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion would in­quire “whether or not there has been a breach of the law or se­cu­rity pro­ce­dure in ob­tain­ing cus­tody and use of the funds”.

The Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion said last week it had dis­cov­ered $43.4m, £27 800 (R470 000) and 23.2 mil­lion naira (R1m) in cash in the same Lagos apart­ment com­plex. – Reuters

Muham­madu Buhari

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