Bounce Exclusive: Could Babachir's Suspension Be A Bait For Magu's Confirmation?
Nigerians did not see it coming, even though lawmakers and some critics of the government called for it long before now.
In October 2016, the National Assembly raised dust over the engagement of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, in deals that they alleged were violations of law and due process.
Citing their findings, the lawmakers in December 2016 advised the president to suspend and prosecute Lawal over alleged breach of Nigeria’s law in handling contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).
The SGF dismissed the allegations, saying it was an attempt to rubbish his person and rejected several invitations to appear before the lawmakers.
But on Wednesday, the president suspended Lawal, refused to meet with him face-to-face and ordered full investigation into the matter.
The suspension comes at a time the executive and legislative arms of government are meeting to resolve their differences.
The Senators' have refused to give approval to the president's request that Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission be confirmed.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, chaired the dispute resolution committee and the outcome kept away from the media.
Few days ago, Professor Osinbajo met with the leadership of the National Assembly and the major focus was to resolve the issues that have separated the executive from the Legislature beyond constitutional dictates.
Few days after that meeting was held, the SGF's suspension came.
Questions are on the minds of Nigerians. They are wondering why the decision is coming months after it appeared the executive was not shifting ground.
Nigerians are also asking what was traded for Mr Lawal to go down?
Could Mr. Magu's confirmation be the next thing that will follow, now that the executive has decided to give the lawmakers a soothing meal that could ease frayed nerves and ensure everyone goes home smiling?
The days or weeks ahead will tell.
The investigation ordered by the President is to be handled by a three-man Committee comprising the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the National Security Adviser, headed by the Vice President.
Vice President Osinbajo appears to be the mediator in the issue that must now be resolved for the government to move ahead at a time that the oil-rich nation's economy is in recession, with the 2017 budget still being debated in the fourth month of the year.
While Mr Lawal is away, the most senior Permanent Secretary in the SGF's office will act as the head of the department.
The investigating committee, which will submit its report to the President within 14 days (May 3), will also investigate the claims by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on the 13 billion Naira found in an apartment in Osborn Towers in Ikoyi area of Lagos State.
The development also earned the Director General of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, a suspension.
President Buhari suspended Ambassador Oke on Wednesday and also ordered full scale investigation into the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the apartment.
The NIA had made a claim on the discovered money.
A statement by a spokesman for President Buhari said the investigation would also 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 establish whether or not there had been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.
Ambassador Oke will be in suspension pending until the investigation is over, Mr Adesina stated.