The senate ad hoc committee on the humanitarian crisis in the north-east has alleged that Babachir Lawal, suspended secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), spent N570m to remove invasive plant species in Yobe state, and not N272m as previously reported.
Shehu Sani, chairman of the committee, said this while presenting a final report of the committee’s investigation on the financial activities of the Presidential Initiative on the North-East (PINE) under the office of the SGF.
PINE, which was set up to oversee the humanitarian needs of internally displaced persons in the northeast, was later dissolved into the Presidential Committee on North-east Initiative (PCNI).
Last December, the senate called for the immediate resignation and prosecution of Lawal, after an interim report of its ad hoc committee indicted him of taking kickbacks from contracts he awarded to his own company and to those of his cronies.
President Muhammadu Buhari did not take action at the time, but in April he suspended Lawal, pending the outcome of an investigation into the allegation.
Speaking on the floor of the senate on Wednesday, Sani alleged that PINE only spent N2m on internally displaced persons in the north-east, and that the bulk of funds earmarked for them was frittered away.
He also alleged that PINE flouted the rules of procurement in awarding contracts. He said Lawal awarded a consultancy contract to Rholavision Limited – a company he has interest in, and that most of the contract awards did not go through the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).
“There is a lack of transparency in the management of the humanitarian crisis in the northeast. To some it is a crisis, to others it is an industry,” he said.