…. Presidency cancels FEC meeting
SUNDAY ODE, Abuja, with agency report
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into the allegations of violations of law and due process made against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal, in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President has also directed the suspension of the SGF from office pending the outcome of the investigations.
In a related development, the President has ordered a full scale investigation into the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, over which the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has made a claim.
The investigation is also to enquire into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds, how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA, and to establish whether or not there has been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.
The President has also directed the suspension of the Director General of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, pending the outcome of the investigation.
A three-man Committee comprising the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the National Security Adviser, headed by the Vice President, is to conduct both investigations.
The Committee is to submit its report to the President within 14 days.
The most senior Permanent Secretary in the SGF’s office, and the most senior officer in the NIA, are to act, respectively, during the period of investigation.
Also on Wednesday, the regular meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) failed to hold on Wednesday but the Presidency promptly squashed speculation that it could be due to President Muhammadu Buhari’s i’ll health.
State House correspondents who had no prior knowledge of the cancellation, got to the Council Chambers venue of the meeting only to learn that it would not hold.
The Senior Special Assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, said the cancellation was because the FEC secretariat staff had no opportunity to circulate relevant documents for the meeting because of the Easter holiday.
“I think it is because of the Easter holiday. The secretariat had no time to circulate the necessary documents,” he said.
According to him, there is a requirement in the law which states that the documents must be circulated to concerned individuals before the meeting.
When asked why the documents were not circulated before the holiday since the secretariat knew before hand that there would be a holiday, he explained that as human beings, they also needed the break.
“The staff on the Council secretariat resumed on Tuesday after the Easter. There was no time to prepare and circulate memos to ministers. By practice, the ministers receive council memos two or three days ahead of meetings because they must read them and sometimes undertake research. It is not a rubber stamp council so everyone must prepare themselves well for debates,” he said.
The presidential spokesman vehemently denied that the cancellation was related to the Pesident’s state of health, saying that it would be wrong to make such assumption, adding: “That will not be fair.”
Buhari’s absence at FEC meeting last week, even though he was in his residence at the Presidential Villa, had stirred some fresh concerns over his health. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo presided over the meeting.
Explaining his absence from the meeting last week, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said Buhari did not attend FEC meeting because he was attending to other issues.
He said: “Clearly when we came in this morning, Mr. President was not in the chambers but the Vice President did preside over the council meeting.
“Understandably, that has sparked a lot of controversies and imputations in the mind of people.
“I just want to make this clear, Mr. President is in town. Mr. President is attending to other issues. Mr President looked at the agenda; it was a very light agenda and decided that the Vice President should preside.
“It’s not unusual for the kind of interest that is shown especially given the fact that Mr. President was away for a while on medical treatment and is not. We are not surprised that people will be wondering is he ill again?
“He is not ill, he is not sick. I am sure that later in the day or tomorrow morning, he will be back in the office. I just want to clear that misconception.
“Is not unusual even if Mr. President is hale and hearty and everything is going on well for the VP to come and preside over meetings of the federal executive council.
“The fact that Mr. President is not in the office does not mean that he is not working.
“I have just been told now that the Secretary to the Government is already with with him in the residence working.
“So, the fact that you did not see him in the office does not mean that he is not working at all.”
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