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Constitutional Breach: Acting SGF begs Senate

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Acting SGF Habiba Lawal: No time for controversy

By Naomi Sharang

The Acting Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mrs Habibat Lawal, has apologised to the Senate for allowing the Director-General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, to assume office without confirmation by it.

Leader of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, in a Point-of-Order at Thursday’s plenary, reported that the SGF made the apology through him to the Senate, while he was investigating the “irregularity’’.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Senate had on Wednesday, criticised the assumption of office by Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila, in acting capacity, at the commission, without confirmation by the chamber.

Consequently, the lawmakers mandated Lawan to investigate the matter, which was reported at the Senate by Sen. Dino Melaye.

The senate leader said that his investigation confirmed that Gbajabiamila had actually assumed office, and without approval by the Upper Chamber.

He said that though the acting Director-General (DG) was nominated for the position, he was not screened or confirmed, and had not received an appointment letter from SGF’s office, but had assumed office.

“I investigated the issue. The nominee for the office of the DG of the National Lottery regulatory Commission actually assumed office.

“I think he was not properly advised and therefore assumed office without going through the stipulated due process,’’ he said.

According to Lawan, I have spoken to all those who should know better, including the acting SGF.

He said that the executive had concluded that Gbajabiamila had erred because probably, he did not get the correct briefing that he should have waited until due process and diligence were completed.

“I believe that it was an error and there was a genuine appeal from the executive that no such thing will ever happen again.

“I advised the SGF that the nominee should not be seen within the vicinity of the office of the SGF until he is confirmed and an appointment letter is given to him,’’ he said.

The leader called on the executive to ensure that such matter never happened again and that nominees eager to assume positions, to tarry until due diligence was followed to its logical conclusion.

Reacting to the matter, Sen. George Sekibo (PDP-Rivers) said that in spite of the fact that the explanation by the leader was clear, the matter was complex and should not come under personal explanation but a motion.

“This matter is a complex matter and according to the point-of-order, it should not be a controversial matter, but you are bringing a major controversial matter.

“Somebody is flagrantly violating the Constitution of Nigeria, Section 5(1b) and you just bring it under personal explanation and he finished talking and sat down as if nothing has happened.

“It is a major issue. I am saying for caution, next time issues of this nature should not come under personal explanation.

“They should look for other orders to bring the matter so that it is open to us for debate,” he said.

In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, said that the leader had done a very thorough job in that he had responded promptly.

“First of all, to establish that the point raised by Sen. Melaye was factual and that he got the assurances that this kind of thing must be stamped out and does not occur again.

“The nominee has erred, probably misguided but definitely, he must not be seen reporting for duty in that area.

“For nominees and the executive, they must respect our laws and processes and even if a nominee is unaware, somebody must guide him.”

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