BREAKING: Buhari bows to pressure finally sacks Babachir Lawal as SGF, replaces him with Boss Mustapha

NIGERIA. Two senior Nigerian government officials have been sacked, six months after they were suspended on corruption allegations, the presidency said on Monday.

The appointments of top civil servant Babachir Lawal and Ayo Oke, director-general of the National Intelligence Agency, were terminated with “immediate effect”, a statement said.

Both men had been suspended since April.

The statement reads, “President Muhammadu Buhari has studied the report of the panel headed by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, which investigated allegations against the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir David Lawal, and the Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke.

Lawal, who as Secretary to the Government of the Federation was Nigeria’s most senior public official, was accused of a contract scam for rebuilding the conflict-scarred northeast.

He is alleged to have awarded deals for reconstruction in areas hit by Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency to companies in which he had a personal interest.

Oke was removed after the discovery of some $43 million (37 million euros) in cash at a private residence in an upscale area of the commercial hub of Lagos.

The money was claimed by the NIA.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected in 2015 on a promise to tackle corruption, has come under fire since taking office for targeting political opponents.

But the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party has accused him of a witch-hunt, as the overwhelming majority of those arrested and charged are PDP supporters or former ministers.

The Lawal and Oke cases have been seen as a litmus test of his commitment to prosecuting graft, regardless of political allegiances.

Buhari’s deputy, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, submitted a report into the claims in August.

“The President accepted the recommendation of the panel to terminate the appointment of Mr Lawal, and has appointed Mr Boss Mustapha as the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation. The appointment takes immediate effect.

“President Buhari also approved the recommendation to terminate the appointment of Ambassador Oke, and has further approved the setting up of a three-member panel to, among other things, look into the operational, technical and administrative structure of the Agency and make appropriate recommendations.”

This was contained in a statement sent, by Buhari’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

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