Chairman of the Senate ad-hoc committee on the mounting humanitarian crisis in the North East, Shehu Sani, has revealed that a good number of the companies that were awarded contracts by the Presidential Initiative on the North East, PINE, cannot be traced as there addresses were apparently fake.
Shehu spoke with journalists following the failure of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, to appear before the Senate committee on Thursday to explain the circumstances surrounding the award of contracts by PINE.
The SGF had sent a letter to the committee saying that an important government function had prevented from honouring the Senate invitation. He asked the lawmakers to fix another date for the briefing.
But addressing journalists, Sani maintained that it was necessary that the SGF should give clarification on the matter.
“Meanwhile, you should understand that we are not investigating the SGF alone. We are investigating contracts that were awarded under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) and over 20 companies were involved,” Sani said.
“But something very strange is the fact that some of these companies in these contracts we couldn’t actually trace their addresses.
“We went there but we couldn’t find them. So the option before us is that it is easier for the camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for us to find some of these names here,” the lawmaker added.
Recall that the committee had presented an initial report on their findings to the Senate in plenary, indicting SGF Lawal of awarding contracts running into hundreds of millions of Naira to a company in which he has interest.
But the SGF shot back at the committee claiming that he was never invited to state his own side of the story.
Sani continued: “One of the persons we invited happens to be the SGF and his invitation followed the events that came after the interim report was tendered before the Senate and that was in his own claim that he was not given a fair hearing.
“He sent a second letter asking for another opportunity to appear before us and he sent a letter to the committee through the leadership of the Senate and that letter overrides any other rumours you may have heard before.
“Like all other persons, I read it on the pages of the newspapers that he went to court but we have never been served any letter on any legal action as far as we are concerned.”
The lawmaker pointed out that the committee was being meticulous with the investigation “because reputations and lives of people are concerned and it is on that background that on the final phase of the report, we have to do a thorough job.”