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A Civil Society group, Network Against Impunity (NAI) has accused the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal of manipulation in the nomination of the Auditor General.

NAI alleged that the nominee’s name, Mr. Anthony Mkpe Ayine, sent to the Senate for approval was not one of the three persons originally shortlisted by the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) for the position of Auditor General.

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In a petition to the Senate, copies of which were circulated in Abuja on Monday, January 9, NAI said that the original list of shortlisted candidates was substituted by the SGF before the nomination got to the Senate.

The petition, dated December 23, 2016 and signed by the group’s National Coordinator, Comrade Yakubu Adagba, further alleged that a high-ranking official in the office of Head of Service of the Federation connived with the SGF to forward the name of a preferred candidate outside the shortlisted names.

On December 15, 2016, the Senate had listed Ayine’s nomination on its Order Paper for consideration but had jumped the item at the last minute, with no reasons given for the action.

NAI’s petition reads in part: “In the first place, Mr. Ayine was not one of the three candidates originally shortlisted for the position of Auditor-General by the Federal Civil Service Commission that conducted oral and written interviews for the candidates.

“The original list of the three shortlisted candidates forwarded to the SGF by the FCSC, was jettisoned by the SGF who substituted the list and presented a different list of nominees to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Therefore, Ayine’s confirmation request pending before the Senate is nothing but a cash-and-carry deal, packaged by the SGF and about to be rubber-stamped by the Senate.

“Consequently, the Senate is enjoined to tarry a while and should not confirm Mr. Ayine in a hurry, to avoid giving legislative backing to official impunity.

“Due diligence and proper investigation by the Senate will save the nation the misfortune of installing a wrong candidate in an establishment as sensitive as the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation.

“To establish authenticity or otherwise of the nominee, we charge the Senate Committee on Public Accounts to demand the records of the screening exercise conducted by the Federal Civil Service Commission for scrutiny.”

The SGF, who is still embroiled in an alleged contract scam involving funds from the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), may be heading for another showdown with the Senate.

The upper chamber had called for his resignation after a report of an investigation by a Senate ad hoc committee accused him of illegal award of contract and payment of over N200 million to Rholavision Engineering Limited, a company he has substantial stakes.

Lawal, however, continues to deny the allegations contained in the Senate report, insisting that he withdrew from the company many years ago.




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