Suspension: Babachir Lawal, Oke may not return to their seats

*Details of what happened revealed

*Why FG took the decisions

There were indications last night that the Presidency may not recall neither the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engineer David Babachir Lawal nor the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke.

Ours sources confided in that, “the suspension of the two officials was to enable the Federal Government investigate the alleged infractions against them. If they are found guilty, they may be asked to formally tender their resignation.

Babachir will be probed over alleged N200million contract awarded to a company, Global Vision Limited, allegedly linked with him by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE) for the clearing of “invasive plant species” (weeds) in Yobe State.

Oke is being investigated for alleged $43.4million operations cash, which was found by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at apartment 7B in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi,Lagos.

The President wielded the big stick after two meetings with members of his kitchen cabinet on Tuesday night and at about 11am on Wednesday.

At the Tuesday night meeting were the President, Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN) and Chief of Staff Abba Kyari, who has just returned from a medical trip overseas. The Director-General of the Department of State Security Service (DSS), Mr. Lawan Daura, who was to be part of the meeting, could not make it because he was in transit from Saudi Arabia where he had gone for lesser Hajj (Umrah). On Wednesday morning, the DG, DSS was part of the second session.

According to sources, the meeting went through the EFCC Interim Report on the $43.4million; a fresh security report on the PINE contract in which the SGF was implicated; the Senate Report on PINE and other available options to take what was seen as a necessary to save the face of the government.

“The meeting was painstaking in looking at the issues against the two officials, especially allegations bordering on compliance with due process and financial regulations and alleged abuse of office.

“The outstanding records of the Director General of NIA made the meeting solemn but it was decided that there should be no scared cow. The implication of the wife of NIA DG on how the safe apartment was secured to keep the $43.4million was found to be ‘abnormal’.

“Non-disclosure of the cash to the sitting President after almost two years in office was also said to be unexplainable.”

“As for SGF Babachir Lawal, fresh security reports available to the President decided his fate. Some decisions taken by PINE under his watch were faulted by the meeting. The President strongly felt the two officials crossed the line and he said their excuses were not just acceptable.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “At the end of it all, the meeting was caught in-between investigation and immediate resignation of the SGF and NIA DG.

“Some of those at the sessions wanted the NIA DG to proceed on pre-retirement leave because of the sensitive nature of the operation of the agency.

“As a matter of fact, the DG had personally submitted a letter for leave of absence to the President to allow unfettered investigation. Oke said he was more interested in the survival of the intelligence system than his personal survival,” said our source.

After weighing the options, the meeting strongly recommended investigation into the alleged infractions against the officers to ascertain what went wrong, unmask other accomplices and learn some lessons for the future.

The source went on: “The Presidency was of the opinion that there might be more to the $43.4million haul. It described the covert operations as suspicious with the immediate administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan rated as complicit.

“The suspension of the officers was designed to allow the conduct of the investigation into the activities of the two officers before a final decision is taken.”

The meeting also considered if the suspensions were not activated, it was going to compromise on the anti-corruption agenda of this administration. The public opprobrium on  the grass cutting allegation against the SGF and the $43.4million cash haul were two heavy opportunities to show where the government stands, no sacred cows here;

Public perception has been that the government is very weak in taking decisions against its senior officials coupled with the need to respect the decision of the Senate on the SGF to pave the way for the ongoing mediation between the Executive and the Legislature;

By the time the meeting was over, it was certain that the two officials are gone for good. That informed the assertions of Prof Itse Sagay. By the time the announcement was made, both officers were caught unawares by the news of their suspension.

There was no formal letter of suspension served on the SGF and the DG of NIA before the announcement was made public. That informed the almost arrogant reaction of Engineer Babachir Lawal when he met with journalists after his meeting with the Vice President. His suspension has been announced while he was in the meeting.

“Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, had audience with the two officers where he explained why they had to go on suspension to them, out of respect and in the place of a formal process which their letters was to serve.”

“If there are prima facie grounds to prosecute them, the government will do so, depending on the recommendations of the three-man panel headed by the Vice President,” said our source.

“As for the Director General of NIA, his tenure will end in November when he will be 60. Technically, he is expected to proceed on pre-retirement leave from August.”

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