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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has requested President Muhammadu Buhari, to refer allegations of corruption leveled against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, for further investigation.

In a letter to the President, dated 27th January, 2017, and signed by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the group said Lawal should be prosecuted, if the anti-graft agencies find sufficient admissible evidence against him.

SERAP also, urged Buhari to publish the outcome of the investigation conducted on the matter by the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and hand over the file to both the EFCC and the ICPC.

SERAP said: “We are concerned that the failure to suspend Lawal from his position as Secretary to the Government of the Federation, pending the investigation by Malami, and the perceived lack of transparency in the outcome of that investigation, may have created the impression that your government is treating Lawal as a sacred cow.”

The letter copied to the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, read in part: “SERAP believes that Lawal’s case presents your administration with a real opportunity to reassure a lot of Nigerians, who may be worried about the direction of travel of your anti-corruption agenda. Rather than assuming a defensive posture to the matter, we advise you to use this case to show to Nigerians, that there will be no two standards of justice in your administration’s fight against corruption.

“SERAP also believes the recommended approach would help to address the growing public suspicion, and pessimism about your government’s ability to fight high-level official corruption to a standstill, and to avoid any collateral consequences.
“It is absolutely important that the public should have complete confidence and trust in your administration’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption, and the impunity of perpetrators.

“It is true that Lawal enjoys a constitutionally and internationally guaranteed right to a fair trial, which includes the right to be presumed innocent, unless and until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“But we believe that the right to presumption of innocence, is one that should have personally be raised by Lawal, and not your government, especially given his position as Secretary to the Government of the Federation. SERAP believes that the guilt or innocence of Lawal is for the court to decide, following a due process of law.‎”

The organisation, said if the President wants to achieve public confidence and trust, it should refer the allegations against Lawal, to both the EFCC and ICPC for further investigations.

It also stated, that pending the referral to the EFCC and ICPC, the Federal Government should suspend Lawal from office, till the outcome of the agencies’ investigations.

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