Senate on Thursday said Grass Cutting Contracts gotten by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal were awarded to Ghost Firms.
According to the red chamber, it had not been able to trace the addresses of about 20 contractors engaged for the execution of various projects in the rehabilitation of the North-East.
An investigative hearing by the Senate on the alleged management of funds meant for the rehabilitation of the North-East, billed to hold on Thursday, had been botched by the non-appearance of Lawal.
The Chairman, Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East, Senator Shehu Sani, said the probe was not a witch-hunt against the SGF, whose office oversees the Presidential Initiative on the North-East.
Speaking with journalists after the plenary on Thursday, following a meeting with the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, Sani said the committee was set to invite all those persons. It was supposed to be today but, unfortunately, it could not happen.
"It was supposed to be today but, unfortunately, it could not happen.
"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, but something very strange is the fact that some of these companies involved in these contracts, we cannot actually trace their addresses.
"We went there but they were not there. The option before us is to either report that they are ghost companies or we keep on searching until we find them.
"But it is most likely that it will be easier for the camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for us to find some of these names here", he stressed.
Also speaking, Enang said there was no rift between the legislature and the executive.
"Let me also state that the executive has great respect for the institution of the Senate and the distinguished senators themselves.
"That is why the secretary to the government personally wrote and signed, and he is requesting rescheduling of the meeting and not saying he will not come. He is requesting rescheduling and the letter has been delivered to the committee."
Sani had earlier at the plenary, on Thursday, stated that the panel would pursue its mandate to a conclusion, insisting that Lawal and others summoned must appear before it.
He added that the panel received a letter from Lawal in which the SGF said he had an official engagement with clashed with the date and time of his appearance on Thursday.
Sani said the letter was different from the one in which Lawal said he would not appear before the lawmakers as he had instituted a legal action against the legislature.topics from