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Senate indicts Presidency, bars lottery commission DG from office

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Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The Senate, on Thursday, condemned the Presidency for allowing Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila to resume as the Director-General of the Nigeria Lottery Regulation Commission without legislative approval of his appointment.

The lawmakers also barred Gbajabiamila from the office until the Presidency sought the Senate’s approval for his appointment and the appointee was cleared by the legislature.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in April appointed Gbajabiamila as the Director-General of the NLRC as well as 22 other chief executives of the Federal Government organisations.

But the Senate, on Wednesday, asked its Majority Leader, Ahmad Lawan, to probe the allegation by Senator Dino Melaye that the President had failed to get legislative approval for Gbajabiamila’s appointment.

Melaye had alleged that the appointee had started to operate in the office without the approval of the legislature.

Raising a point of order at the plenary on Thursday, Lawan said those he contacted in the executive confirmed Melaye’s allegation and apologised for the error.

He said, “Yesterday, the Senate, by way of resolution, mandated me to investigate the case of a nominee who has yet to be screened and confirmed by the Senate and who has yet to receive an appointment letter from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, but that nominee has assumed office.

“I investigated the issue very thoroughly and I stand here to report what actually happened. The nominee for the Office of the Director-General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission actually assumed office. I think he was wrongly advised and, therefore, assumed office without going through the stipulated due process.

“I spoke with all those who should know better, including the acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the conclusion on the side of the executive was that he (Gbajabiamila) erred because probably he didn’t get the correct briefing that he should have waited until due process and due diligence were completed.

“On this side, 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 advise the SGF that the nominee should not be seen within the vicinity of the office until he is confirmed and an appointment letter given to him.

“I also want to take this opportunity to advise the executive that such a thing must never be allowed to happen again. And for nominees who may be so eager to start work, they should tarry a while until due diligence is followed to a logical conclusion.

“I believe that this is a worthwhile investigation and I believe that those who are supposed to ensure total compliance with our legislation now know better.”

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who presided over the plenary, criticised the Presidency for the error. He warned the executive against a repeat of such a constitutional breach.

Saraki said, “I think you will agree with me that the leader has done a very thorough job. Not only that, he has responded promptly within 24 hours, first of all, to establish that the point raised by Senator Dino (Melaye) was factual and he got the assurances that this type of thing, we must stamp it out and it must not occur again. He (appointee) has erred and he might have been misguided. But, definitely, he must not be seen reporting in that area (office). Definitely, that must not happen.

“Going forward, both for nominees and the executive, we must respect our laws and our processes. Even if he did it, somebody should have been there to direct and guide him. Those who are eager to resume should tarry a while and follow the due process. We will close this matter here.”

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