|Nigerian President; Mohammed Buhari
Special Assistant to the President on prosecution, Chief Okoi Okono Obla, has defended Buhari’s action in rejecting the Senate recommendation to sack Secretary to Government of the Federation, David Babachir Lawal over alleged fraud.
Obla said Senate never allowed Lawal to defend himself during investigation.
“First and foremost, the Senate is not a court of law. The Senate is not police, the Senate is not EFCC, the Senate is not ICPC. The Senate, under Section 88 of the Constitution can carry out what we call oversight functions,” Obla told Vanguard.
“And in the course of its oversight functions, the Senate do investigate the executive branch of government or the department of the executive branch of government in order to expose corruption, inefficiency and so on and so forth.
“The report that was issued by the Senate was an interim report. And the president’s letter to the Senate was that look, your report was an interim report, I thought that you were going to give me a full report, your work is inconclusive but from what I have seen, the man was not given a fair hearing.
“Despite that we are still investigating this man, if you read the letter very well, he said ‘look, this man is still under investigation but meanwhile, I will not sack him from work because I have seen that he was not given a fair hearing”, he added.
Asked if Buhari was not supposed to forward the Senate recommendation to the anti-graft agencies for action, he said: “No, if the man says ‘look, I have not been given a fair hearing’, what stops the Senate from giving him a fair hearing. The Senate can still constitute another committee and invite this man to appear an confront him with whatever evidence they have against him.
“Alternatively, nothing stops the Senate from sending the report to the EFCC or the ICPC in addition to what the president is doing. Remember that the president asked the Attorney-General to investigate and we have not been told that the Attorney General has submitted the report to the president.
“So, while we wait for that, we shouldn’t jump the gun. The people are trying to railroad the president to begin to sack people. We have to give fair hearing to anybody who is accused of corruption. Corruption is a very grave offence.
“If somebody is sacked because of a mere allegation of corruption that has not been properly investigated, and the person has not been given a fair hearing, you would end up to stigmatise that person, you would end up to damage the person’s reputation and character.
“This government has demonstrated so many times to show that there’s no sacred cow. Anybody who has soiled his hands will definitely be punished but we should be patient with the process.”
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