By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
The plenary of the Senate became rowdy on Tuesday as Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, read President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter, which criticized the resolution of the Senate calling for the sack of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir David Lawal.
The upper legislative chambers had recently adopted a resolution calling on Babachir to resign his position and face prosecution over alleged abused of office.
Senator Shehu Sani, (Kaduna Central) who said that he was shocked that President Buhari could be misled to write such a letters, described it as “the funeral service for anti-corruption fight” in the country.
Senator Sani who was chairman, Senate ad-hoc committee on “Mounting humanitarian crisis in the North-East” while defending the report of his committee came hard on President Buhari.
The Kaduna Central Senator noted that it was unfortunate that President Buhari’s Government has chosen to fight corruption with “insecticide when it has to do with the Judiciary, National Assembly and the larger society and uses deodorant when it has to do with the Presidency.”
He also insisted that “It is unfortunate that we have a political atmosphere where you have a saintly and angelic presidency and a devilish and evil society.”
Saraki appeared uncomfortable with the line of defence Sani was offering and attempted to cut him short.
There was instantaneous uproar in the chamber as Senators across party line urged Sani to “fire on.”
Saraki retreated and allowed Sani to conclude his explanation about how his committee arrived at its conclusions and recommendations on the need for Lawal to resign and be prosecuted for alleged abuse of office.
Many Senators were also said to have doubted that President Buhari actually wrote the letter since it was “hurriedly sent to the Senate after President Buahri travelled to the United Kingdome for medical treatment.”
In the letter, President Buhari faulted the Senate for resolving that Lawal should resign and be prosecuted.
The President said that due process was not followed before the Senate arrived at its resolution.
The President Buhari’s letter dated 17 January, 2017 absolving Lawal of wrong doing in the handling of funds approved for the care of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) read in part:
“Re-resolution by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria concerning the humanitarian situation in the northeast region particularly in relation to the alleged role of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. David Babachir Lawal in the contract implementation regime of the Presidential Initiative for the northeast (PINE).
“You may recall your letter with reference NASS /8X/R/01/5 dated 15th December, 2016 in respect of the Senate consideration of the report of its ad-hoc committee on the mounting humanitarian crisis in the northeast that conveyed the resolution of the committee as contained in paragraph 1 subsection 8 therein which reads as follows:
“ Engr. Babachir Lawal having contravenes the provisions of part one of the 5th schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended had breached his oath of office and should resign and be prosecuted by the relevant authority, S/075/02/01/16.
“Following the receipt of your letter, I set up a review team to consider the recommendations from the Senate committee.