By Cecilia Ijuo
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Culture and Tourism, Matthew Urhoghide, and Senator Shehu Sani, who chairs the ad-hoc committee on North East crisis have all applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for suspending Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir David Lawal.
Senator Adamu Aliero who chairs the committee on aviation was also full of praise for President Buhari for the courage displayed in suspending Lawal.
The three senators gave their commendations in separate interviews.
The lawmakers told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday that the move was evidence that the president was ready to fight corruption irrespective of who was involved.
Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, who announced the suspension in a statement on Wednesday, said Buhari also ordered investigation into allegations of violations of law and due process against the SGF.
The Senate Ad hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crises in the North-East had, in an interim report, indicted Lawal in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North-East (PINE).
Urhoghide said the suspension was welcome.
He added that contrary to beliefs that the National Assembly was out to witch-hunt members of the executive, the assembly had sincerity of purpose in the discharge of its duties.
According to him, the legislature is always ready to compliment efforts of the other arms of government towards a sustainable democracy.
“Some of the decisions of the assembly are reached on the merit of their cases.
“So, if the president now considers that it is a good thing for him to take a look at the report from the Senate, which was given in good faith, it is nice.
“It shows that we are all working together as a team.
“If we are fighting corruption we should fight corruption. So, if the president now sees that the position of the senate is right it is good for him to sanction his own employees,’’ Urhoghide said.
He urged the president to also take a look at the senate’s rejection of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu.
“The president should also take a look at recommendations made with regard to Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd), and other issues,’’ he added.
He explained that the stand of the senate on Magu and Ali was not as a result of any personal issues but in the best interest of the country.
“As we expect more of these cases to come up, I want to assure us that there is no rift between the legislature and the executive.
“We are all complimenting each other’s effort in fighting corruption, and that is the truth.
“I hope the president will also look at the senate’s recommendation about Magu and CG of customs and others which were given in good fate.
“The president should look at the reports and act accordingly. We are not witch-hunting anybody.
“Whatever recommendation the senate sends to the president is in good faith, because we are all working for the development of the nation and sustenance of democracy,’’ the lawmaker said.
Chairman of the ad hoc committee investigating the North-East crises, Sen. Shehu Sani, in a statement in Abuja applauded the action of the president on the committee’s report.
He said it was commendable that the committee’s report was taken seriously.
“The sword of truth is not just cast and sharpened for the neck of foes but also for those of friends.
“Moral gallows is not just meant for a belligerent foe but for a perfidious friend.
“Courage is dispensing justice; greater courage is dispensing justice against our emotions and temptation towards saving a friend.
“It’s easier to annihilate an adversary for a heap wrong than reprimand a friend for a mountain of wrong.
“It’s commendable for the president to heed the call to fumigate the throne of lice and bugs with the same ability he goes after rodents afar,’’ he said.
The lawmaker clarified that “the senate and the committee have nothing personal against the SGF or any person affected.
“We simply did our job in conformity with our constitutional responsibilities and the moral calling of our conscience.
“We cannot jubilate because a mighty mortal is caught in the trap of his fate; we are neither saints nor Angels, but we have a duty to raise a card and blow the whistle.’’
Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Sen. Adamu Aliero, applauded the courage of the president in suspending the SGF.
“The National Assembly is very happy with the development because the executive has concorded with the legislature.
“We are happy that most of the findings of the senate have been upheld by the committee set up by the executive.
“So, we are very happy that it happened this way and this goes to show that the bickering between the executive and the legislature will soon be over.’’
Sen. Mohammed Hassan (PDP-Yobe), a member of the ad hoc committee, said that the committee was putting finishing touches to the final report on its assignment.
He said that the report would be laid before the senate after the Easter break.
“I am just hearing this from you, but you know it was an interim report that was presented to the senate and the final report, I am sure when we resume, will be laid on the floor of the Senate.
“If you recall, we were to have a public hearing where all those involved will be invited and that couldn’t hold for some obvious reasons that were stated on the floor of the senate.
“What I know is that the committee will ensure that the report is laid on the floor of the senate,’’ he said.