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Abuse of office: Senate committee turns back SGF’s perm sec

By Wahab Akanji, Abuja

The bickering between the Senate and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, over alleged abuse of office leveled against Lawal may be far from over.

This is because the SGF on Thursday failed to appear before the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter Governmental Affairs to defend 2017 budget proposal of his office.

His absence did not go down well with members of the committee led by Senator Tijjani Kaura who refused to honour the Permanent Secretary, General Services Office of the SGF, Mohammed Bukar, who was delegated to represent Lawal at the budget defence session.

It was gathered that the Permanent Secretary informed the committee of the absence of the SGF minutes before commencement of the meeting saying his boss had gone for the funeral of a relation who died some time ago.

Members of the committee insisted that “the permanent secretary would not be allowed to represent the SGF.

They particularly frowned at the failure of the SGF to inform the committee in writing about his inability to attend the budget defence.

The lawmakers thereafter put off the budget defence and proceeded to brief the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki on reasons why it became necessary for the meeting to be postponed.

A member of the committee told reporters that: “Much as we try to protect the SGF as a brother, there are limits to what he should do. What he ought to do is seek the understanding of the committee to reschedule the meeting, which is a normal thing.

“As far as the committee is concerned, courtesy demands that he should call the Chairman. He did not appear and he did not show concern. Since he is not here and not ready, he should make contact with the committee to reschedule.

“Why he is not here is not cogent enough. He said he went to condole with a family over the loss of a loved one, but here we have a colleague, a Senator for that matter, who is also supposed to attend the funeral of a loved one staying back to attend the budget defense.
“As far as we are concerned, the excuse he gave of going for the burial a loved one is not a good one at all.”

The relationship between the Senate and SGF became sour following the resolution of the Senate that President Muhammadu Buhari should sack the SGF over alleged abuse of office.

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