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Alleged fraud: SGF reverses stand, urges Senate to reschedule hearing

Written by Maritime First
  • As FG pledges to refund expenditure on federal roads to states

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Babachir Lawal, has urged the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Humanitarian Crisis in North-East to reschedule its planned public hearing to enable him to attend.

The SGF, who made this known in a letter to the committee dated March 22, 2017, said he would not be able to honour the invitation of the committee to him to appear at a public hearing on Thursday due to an engagement.

The ad hoc committee headed by Sen. Shehu Sani is investigation alleged misappropriation in the management of the funds for the rehabilitation of the North-East.

The office of the SGF is coordinating the “project’’ hence he was invited to a public hearing on the issue by the committee.

At the first invitation late 2016, he did not attend and the committee indicted him.

In his reaction, he decried the action of the committee, claiming that he was not given fair hearing, having not honoured the invitation.

The committee in a letter dated March 15, 2017, invited the SGF to a second public hearing on the matter as part of the investigation and asked him to come on Thursday.

In the letter, the committee indicated that the essence of the second public hearing was to give fair hearing, particularly to stakeholders who refused to attend the first hearing.

But, in a letter to the Chairman of the committee on Wednesday, the SGF said that rather than attend the hearing, he was challenging the invitation at the court.

However, in another letter on Thursday, Lawal appealed to the committee to reschedule the hearing to enable him attend.

“I wish to kindly request that you draw the attention of the members of the committee that I will not be able to appear before it primarily because of  the  pressing engagement of government which clashed with the date and time of the hearing,’’ he said.

He urged the committee to reschedule the public hearing from Thursday to another date and time.

In the meantime, Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing on Thursday pledged the commitment of the Federal Government to refund expenditure on the execution of federal roads to state governments.

Fashola, who stated this in Ado-Ekiti during a courtesy visit to Gov. Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state, said the planned refund followed request by several state governments.

The minister said he was in the state to inspect ongoing Federal Government road projects.

He commended the governor over federal road projects executed in the state, adding that the Federal Government was committed to refunding the amount spent on the projects.

According to the minister, we are committed to supporting states toward achieving their developmental objectives and so, efforts are being made to raise the fund through bonds.

Fashola said Federal Government was not in competition with any state government and therefore, urged the governor to support the activities of the Federal Controller of Works in the state.

He said the controller was in the state to ensure that the realisation of the Federal Government’s infrastructure developmental plans.

The minister assured that work would resume in roads where engineering designs had been completed in the state, as soon as the 2017 budget was passed.

In his remark, Fayose commended the minister for the visit, adding that coming to the state through road from Abuja was an indication that the minister was prepared to work.

He said the state had no reason to doubt the minister over his promises to refund moneys spent on federal roads, completion of ongoing projects as well commencement of new ones.

Fayose, however, urged the minister to expedite actions in ensuring that the projects were completed before the expiration of the tenure of the present administration in the state.

NAN with additional report from Upshot

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Maritime First