This is not the best of times for Babachair Lawal, a former
Secretary to the government of the
Federation and Ayo Oke, the sacked
Director General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency, NIA. The dual have been on list of top government
officials to be charged to Court over
alleged corruption over the last two years .
The report of the
panel headed by yemi Osinbajo, the Vice president on Babachair’s case which indicted him and the three -man panel
which also indicted Oke, the erstwhile NIA, boss, may have provided the
ammunition for the Ibrahim Magu led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,
EFCC, to finally charge the duo to Court.
The delay in charging the duo to Court despite the overwhelming evidence against the top government officials may have given people the impression that the EFCC may no longer pursue the trial, fueling speculation that Buhari was shielding them. This may have also impression that their case files have been closed their case files as the anti-gralt agency officials were no longer coming after them. They got it wrong as the Commission may have been concerned in putting its records right before dragging them Court to avoid the case on technical ground.
Investigation by The Value News shows that when the Commission became convinced that the coast was clear to charge the two sacked government officials to court they did not hesitate in doing so. On Wednesday, January 30, 2019, the Commission proved critics wrong when it filed ”corruption charges against the duo”. Also, charged alongside Babachair, the former SSG and Oke, ex DG, NIA, were Mrs. Flashade Oke, the wife of the ex-NIA boss, Hamidu David Lawal, a Director of Rholavision Engineering limited , Suleiman Abubakar, a Staff of the Company and Apeh Monday, Managing Director of Josmoni Technologies, one of the Companies .
Babachair and Oke, may have made news because of the position they occupy in the Buhari Administration. indeed, nobody had expected them to put their hand in the till because of Buhari’s anti-corruption war policy. perhaps, they may have cashed in on the ex-DG of Administration of giving a free hand to his political appointees to do their work and reluctance to bow to pressure to sack political appointees found wanting in the discharge of their duties.
Garba Shehu, senior Special Assistant to the President to
the President noted that despite their closeness to him, he never shielded them
from EFCC” investigation, administrative
suspension and prosecution”. Shehu disclosed that Buhari has a standing policy
that ”no official would go unpunished once he or she breaks the Law”. The
prosecution of Babachair and Oke speaks volume.
Going by the trial arrangement of the top government officials and others joined in the EFCC suit, the that of Oke and Foolashade, the wife would begin on Friday, February 1, 2019 while Babachair and his accomplice ‘s case would come up for fearing on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 The anti-graft agency had filed a 10-count charge against Babachair, the former SSG and four against Oke. The much talked about Oke, the former NIA boss and Folashade, his wife ,trial could not hold today, February 1, 2019, as speculated. Rotimi Oyedepo, the EFCC, Lawyer , said the case could not come up for hearing because it was not ”listed on Friday, January 25, 2019, in the case list. Oyedepo is optimistic that the case will likely be called on Wednesday, February 6, 2019, the same day that Babachair, the former SSG, would appear in Court to answer the charges against him. There are fears that the embattled former SSG may have relocated abroad to avoid going to jail but the EFCC lawyer has urged Nigerians to be patient until next week’s Wednesday to find out the truth.
Babachair, the former SSG, according to the Osibajo panel report had allegedly awarded contracts worth N500 million, through the Presidential Initiative on the north east , a rehabilitation programmed under his office to Rholavision Engineering Ltd and Josmon Technologies ltd, which he was said to be a major shareholder. The contract covers N272 million grass cutting on Internally Displaced people’s, IDP, Camp and the provision of 115 hectares of simplified village irrigation in Yobe state. The N500 million contract was said to have been awarded at the instance of the former SSG, between March and September, 2016, and the amount paid into the contractor’s account in Ecobank along Ahmadu Bello way, Kaduna, with Accounts no. 0182001809 and 1180010559651. The amont was said to have been transferred to the Rholavision Account where Babachair allegedly has an interest. Many believe that by charging Bababachair and Oke to court, the EFCC, has exposed how political appointees used their positions to allegedly commit fraud.
Note that if the
EFCC, succeeds in getting Babachair and Oke , the two former top government
officials convicted , they may heading to jail.
Recall that the Commission last year won the alleged corruption charges
against Jonah Jang, and Jolly Nyame,
both former governors of Plateau and Taraba states respectively. The conviction
of the duo may have made Magu, the Commission, acting Chairman, a force to be
reckoned with the execution of the
Buhari anti-corruption war.
the anti-graft agency had confirmed last year thatthey have recorded
603 convictions since Buhari took office
in May 2015. The Convictions ,
according to Wlson Uwajarem , the Commission Spokesman were recorded between
2015 and 2018. This is good news as the
agency is optimistic of winning more cases in Court because of the enormous
evidence of alleged corruption against those already charged to court including
Babachair, the former SSG and Oke, the then NIA , boss.
The anti graft agency
was said to have recovered over N500 billion for the government
including exotic vehicles and buildings
in high profile areas of Abuja as well as undeveloped landed properties from
victims. It was therefore not surprising why Buhari has thrown his weight
behind the Commission to do their job without restraint.