TVC N. The suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, on Thursday, again failed to appear before the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East.
It was Lawal’s third invitation, which he had failed to honour. The committee said the non-appearance of the suspended SGF would not stop it from presenting its final report on its probe into the contract scandal in the rehabilitation of the geopolitical zone.
Specifically, the lawmakers said Lawal would not be invited to defend himself on the allegations against him again while its final report on the probe would be laid before the Senate on Tuesday.
The embattled SGF was re-invited by the committee through a letter on Wednesday to answer questions on his role in the alleged mismanagement of funds by the Presidential Initiative on the North-East under his watch.
Lawal, who was suspended for his indictment in the interim report of the Senate panel, had asked the lawmakers, on the second invitation to him, to fix another date for his appearance.
The suspended SGF, however, failed to show up on Thursday, a development that angered members of the panel.
The lawmakers threatened to declare a “no-show” for Lawal and would go ahead to prepare their final report without the his defence.
The Senate had called for Lawal’s resignation, probe and prosecution based on the interim report by the committee, which was released on December 14, 2016.
The lawmakers specifically called on security and anti-graft agencies to arrest and prosecute Lawal for allegedly owning and being a signatory to one of the companies awarded contracts in the rehabilitation of the North-East.
The chairman of the panel, Senator Shehu Sani, while addressing journalists at the meeting venue on Thursday, said Lawal gave excuses of being busy with official assignments for his non-appearance on previous invitations and gave no reason for his absence even after he had been suspended.
Sani added, “We thought that now that he is on suspension, he would have enough time to be here. We sent letters to his former office and his house but the one for his house could not be delivered. The men at the gate turned back our messenger.
“Now, we are here since 10am, waiting for him, and it’s now 12 noon. It is clear to us that he is not appearing. As you can see, he is not here.
“We see this as a deliberate choice to absent himself from this committee and we believe that the general public has seen how we all tried to give the man an opportunity to defend himself publicly.”
A member of the committee, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, said it was sad that the lawmakers planned to conclude their investigations with Lawal’s defence, lamenting that the embattled SGF did not show up.