ABUJA—Fresh crisis between the Presidency and the Senate looms as indications emerged yesterday that senators are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to dissolve the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, PACAC, led by Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, for incompetence.
Buhari and Bukola Saraki This is coming weeks after the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly summoned Sagay for describing senators’ actions as childish and irresponsible, a summon he failed to honour.
The call for the dissolution was made yesterday by the Chairman, Senate Ad hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East, Senator Shehu Sani, APC, Kaduna Central. But Prof Sagay, in a swift reaction, accused the Senate of working assiduously to whittle down the anti-corruption war of the government.
Speaking with journalists, Senator Sani, who noted that the President did not need a forum of advisers on corruption to effectively fight corruption, said the suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal, was a clear indication that the committee, which once defended the SGF, was not competent.
Sani said: “President Muhammadu Buhari should, as a matter of urgency, dissolve his Presidential Advisory Council on Corruption. It is a moribund and irrelevant assemblage. “The Presidential Advisory Committee, headed by a man who defended the SGF is without honour.
Professor Sagay attacked me for my report on PINE, now that the President has taken steps in the direction of the committee report, I hope the Prof will muster the courage to also attack the President. The advisory committee was looking for corruption in Sokoto, while it’s there in Shokoto. “It is sad that most of the mercenary forces hired to rubbish the integrity of the Senate Committee and defend those indicted have suddenly lost their voice.”
He, however, lamented that the humanitarian situation in the North East was made an industry where government officials and even NGOs profited from the suffering and hardship of millions of victims. According to him, while some people saw the millions of orphans and widows produced by the crisis as victims, others saw them as cash cows.
It would be recalled that 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 had on December 14, 2016, called for the resignation and prosecution of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr Babachir Lawal, following alleged complicity in the diversion of North East humanitarian funds. 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.
The call for Lawal’s resignation followed alleged contravention of the provisions of Public Procurement Act and the Federal Government Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to award of contracts. Contacted, chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, lampooned the Senate for making such a recommendation, accusing the Senate of working towards ensuring that the anti-corruption war was whittled down.
Sagay said: “Their reactions show that they are ignorant and they are also prejudiced because of the role we are playing in frustrating their attempt to water down the anti-corruption struggle. ‘’So, this is a reaction to the fact that we are supporting the struggle against corruption by upholding Ibrahim Magu, who has been very successful in that struggle. They (Senate) are frustrated. ‘’Let me say this, this Senate is supposed to have been elected on the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC, but from all indications, it is a hostile character and a big mistake to have been elected on the platform of the APC.
“Infact, it is agents of the PDP and other unsavoury characters in the Senate who are ruining this country for no just cause. So, I am not surprised, it is against the anti-corruption struggle and they would not want us to survive because our continued role and presence will make it more difficult for corruption to continue. So they are against us.”