TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE NORTHEAST SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY IN EDUCATION CLUSTER ON THE 10th MAY, 2017 AT THE ROCKVIEW HOTEL, ABUJA, NIGERIA ON THE NEED TO KNOW THE POSITION OF THE REPORT OF THE PRESIDENTIAL INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE ON THE SUSPENDED SGF AND NIA BOSS
Dear members of the press, we welcome you to this important press conference.
We are here as members of the North East Social Accountability in the Education Cluster with the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) as an Anchor. The cluster is established with the special goal of mobilizing all stakeholders towards the rebuilding and reconstruction of the North-east with a particular focus on ensuring accountability in the education sector and the welfare of the IDPs.
You can recall that on Wednesday, 19/04/2017, President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr David Babachir Lawal, who was accused of legal and due process violations in the award of contracts to companies handling projects under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the North-East, and the Director General of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, for the claim that the 13 billion naira discovery by the EFCC at Osbourne Towers, Ikoyi, belonged to NIA. To that effect, the President set up a three-man Presidential Investigative Committee under the chairmanship of Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to investigate the allegations against the said officials. The committee was given two weeks to submit its report to the President. In the discharge of its work, the panel was expected to invite all relevant officials and private individuals who may be connected to both cases.
How we viewed the action of the President
As a group of Civil Society Organizations that has been calling for justice especially in the case of the grass cutting scandal, the setting up of the committee raised our confidence in the Buhari`s administration whose one of the cardinal principles is fighting corruption. The action has also no doubt debunked a speculation that the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari`s administration is one-sided, and it brought to action the Buhari`s famous quote of “I belong to nobody and I belong to everybody.”
As a cluster whose central objective is the promotion of transparency and accountability, we see the action of the suspended SGF clearly as a test case for the regime to demonstrate its commitment to transparency and accountability (both of which are key to the fight against corruption) by ensuring that this is addressed promptly and in the public interest.
The Fate of the Presidential Investigative Committee Report
Based on the two weeks duration given to the committee, it was supposed to submit its report on Wednesday, 03/05/2017, but in a statement by Mr. Laolu Akande, spokesman to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday, 04/05/2017 it was stated that the panel would submit its report to the President on Monday, 08/05/2017. The statement categorically stated as follows:
“The three-man Presidential Investigative Committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, under the chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to inquire into the Discovery of Foreign and Local Currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at Osbourne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos and the Allegations of Due Process Violations in the Award of Contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East is completing its assignment today and is scheduled to present its reports to the President on Monday, May 8, 2017.”
Meanwhile, on Wednesday 03/05/2017, a committee by the Senate, on the humanitarian crisis in the north-east submitted its final report in which it indicted Babachir Lawal for bribery and breach of law in the procurement exercise at the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE). Apart from the grass-cutting contract, the final report of the committee also gave details of how Babachir received about N450 million in kickbacks from companies that got contracts from PINE.
We believe the Acting President has now received the report since it was due to be submitted to him two days ago. What is now needed is for him to act on the report.
In view of the above, the North East Social Accountability in the Education Cluster wishes to demand as follows:
- Now that the report of the committee is one week behind schedule, we call on the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo to make the findings of the committee known to the public as Nigerians have been anxiously waiting for them.
- As the Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we call on Prof. Osibanjo to act on the report by implementing all of the recommendations
- As we were meant to believe that the absence of Mr. President will not affect the running of the government, we call on Mr. Acting President to continue with the fight against corruption which has yielded some positive outcomes in recent time.
On our part as Civil Society Organizations we would continue to follow up on this important matter of national image, and also want to state our commitment to working with all stakeholders and continue to enlighten the general public on how the fight against corruption in Nigeria becomes sustainable.
- KabiruSa`iduDakata, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Kano. 08064891110
- Mohammed G. Wuyo, Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP), Borno. 08063309633
- Enoch Raymond, Centre for Environmental Education and Development (CEED), Taraba. 07065550217
- Rebecca Hassan, Association of People Living with Disability, Gombe. 08036582745
- Mohammed Chiroma, Coalition for Improvement of Public Expenditure Management (BACIPEM), Bauchi. 08036451430
- Dauda Mohammad, Northeast Youth Initiative Forum(NEYIF), 08035548664
- Fadimatu Tarfa, Centre for Women and Adolescent Empowerment, Adamawa. 08038286379