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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

[New post] GRASS CUTTING SCAM: Senate reveals more ‘dirt’ on suspended SGF Lawal

anonymous informant     8:24 PM    


Worried by some unconfirmed reports that some certain forces within President Muhammadu Buhari-led government were plotting to save the suspended Secretary to the Government of
the Federation (SGF), Mr David Babachir Lawal, the Senate on Wednesday, moved to block all such moves.
After adopting its final report on the alleged misconduct of Lawal in the handling of projects and contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE), the Red Chamber agreed to immediately send its resolution to President Buhari for immediate implementation.
Senators were shocked to hear that apart from the N270 million for the grass cutting contract, there was ‎another N200 million spent to hire consultants on grass cutting.
The report by the Senator Shehu Sani-led ad hoc committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crises in the North-East, revealed that after receiving payments from PINE, at least five companies separately paid about N450 million to the Eco Bank account (182001809) of Rholavision Engineering Limited owned by Mr. Lawal as admitted by the Corporate Affairs Affairs Commission (CAC) and his private account (0003004417) with Diamond Bank, as revealed in bank statements.
The committee said: "According to a CBN confirmation attached to the report, Mr. Lawal was still the signatory to the account of Rholavision until February 15, 2017 which shares the same Bank Verification Number with his personal account and 13 other accounts in commercial banks."
The committee said that between March 29, 2016 and April 20, 2016, Josmon Technologies Limited transferred N317 million to Rholavision after receiving two "grass-cutting" contracts worth N530.6 million for the removal of invasive plant species in Yobe State.
"The transfers were made in tranches, mostly N10 million per transaction, and N47 million on the last day. For the "grass-cutting" contract, Mr. Lawal's Rholavision was awarded the consultancy contract on March 8, 2016, while the owner was in the service of the government as federal cabinet secretary, in breach of Nigeria's code of conduct for public officers and the Public Procurement Act," the report further read.
The report further added that "apart from that contract which formed the basis of the call by the Senate that Mr. Lawal be removed and prosecuted by President Muhammadu Buhari last December, the suspended SGF was also into other fraudulent deals with companies using PINE as conduit pipe.
"For instance, on August 8, 2016, JMT Global Technologies Ltd transferred N30 million from its Zenith Bank account 114357188 to Rholavision. Then, JMT had just got eight contracts for "rehabilitations/renovations in Adamawa" State for the sum of N199.4 million.
The committee said that "Messrs Adamawa Boreholes and Drilling Companies Ltd transferred N18 million to Mr. Lawal's company, after clinching N54.8 million contract to renovate seven classrooms at Yeskule Girls Secondary School, Michika Adamawa State.
Similarly, Barde Brothers Multi-Services Limited which was also awarded seven contracts to renovate classrooms in Adamawa State for N145 million returned N71 million to Mr. Lawal's company account on October 10, 2016, and another N13 million between July 7, 2016 and September 9, 2016 to his private account."
Lawmakers adjourned and re-opened the chamber within ten minutes to approve the day's Votes and Proceedings to complete the parliamentary process required in arriving at a logical conclusion in any matter before a decision is conveyed to the President.
Some Senators had alleged that serious political meetings were still being held in the residence of Lawal in Maitama (Abuja) aimed at saving him.
A lawmaker hinted: "We are aware of sinister moves by a cabal of politicians desperately moving to get Lawal re-instated to his position. You will be surprised that just recently a governor led a delegation of politicians to Lawal's House in Maitama where strategies for returning him were discussed."
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki in a remark after the adoption of the final report, confirmed the existence of pressure to interfere and protect the suspended SGF.
He said: "The quality of the report despite political pressure that we know exists is highly commendable. The facts and document available to the committee are damning. The problem in the North East will not get better unless we do something urgently.
"What is happening in the North East calls to question activities of the anti graft agencies. I don't think that Babachir is the beginning of corruption in that agency (PINE). The system made it possible for this kind of looting. It is not just about Babachir. It is a systemic problem that must be tackled. It also calls for stringent oversight."
All the recommendations made by the Senator Shehu Sani-led ad hoc committee were adopted without any single voice of dissent.
That report recommended, among others, that Lawal having contravened the provision of Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (As amended); the Public Procurement Act 2007 and breach the Oaths of Office as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, should be prosecuted by the relevant authorities.
It also recommended further investigation by relevant Agencies of Government on why contract benefiting companies paid over Five hundred million (N500,000,000.00) naira into Rholavision Engineering Limited, a company in which Lawal has interest.
Other recommendations of the committee's report include: "That the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) should undertake a revaluation of all such contracts to recover any proceeds from over~inflated contracts."
The committee is also of the view that the relevant Agencies should ensure that contracts partially executed but fully paid for must be completed by the concerned contractors, or be asked to refund the equivalent money of outstanding jobs to the government treasury.
The Sani committee also asked that all resources that have been misapplied or stolen by public officials should be retrieved and anybody found culpable of contravening any of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and the Federal Government Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to the award of these contracts should be duly prosecuted by the relevant authorities.
The committee further informed the Senate that in view of the confirmation by Central Bank of Nigeria that Babachir Lawal is the owner of all the contracting firms because he owns the Bank Verification Number accounts of all thirteen (13) other accounts, the suspended SGF should be prosecuted.


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