Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is under huge pressure from lobbyists pleading with his committee investigating Ayo Oke, the director general of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency, NIA, and the secretary to the government of the federation, Babachir Lawal, to find a soft landing for both suspended officials.
Lawal is being investigated over an alleged N200 million contract awarded to a company he is linked with by the Presidential Initiative for the North East, PINE, which he headed, for the clearing of ‘invasive plant species’ (weeds) in Yobe State.
It was also learnt that the ongoing probe of the two officials has divided members of the ‘kitchen cabinet’ of the President.
Professor Osinbajo is the head of the 3-person panel investigating the discovery of the funds. On Sunday, President Muhammadu Buhari left Nigeria for medical treatment in London leaving the reins of office to Osinbajo.
According to The Nation, a source in the presidency said: “Even there is a split among the kitchen cabinet members on Lawal and Oke. The sympathy is more for Oke in view of his high rating in the intelligence community. He is considered a first-class diplomat.
“As a matter of fact, Oke was the first to initiate the recovery of Abacha loot during the tenure of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo as a desk officer at the Nigerian High Commission in London. All attempts to make him compromise on Abacha loot failed.
“Of all the security chiefs, he was the only one who wrote an accurate report to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan that he would lose the 2015 presidential election to President Muhammadu Buhari at the risk of his job.
“This is why he was baffled when the $43.4million was linked to the campaign funds for Jonathan.
“What the lobbyists, including some security chiefs, are saying is that Oke should not be humiliated out of office. They said he should either be allowed to go on voluntary retirement or compulsorily retired.
“Some security chiefs are of the opinion that Oke’s trial might set a dangerous precedent.”
Asked to be forthcoming, the presidency source said: “The whole thing is messy and complicated.”
Read more at The Nation.