Nigeria's Buhari sacks two senior aides for graft

 30 Oct 2017 - 18:13

Nigeria's Buhari sacks two senior aides for graft
(FILES) This file photo taken on September 16, 2015 shows Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during a press conference in Paris. AFP / Bertrand GUAY

AFP

Abuja: 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.

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 presidency has recently been embroiled in a scandal involving an indicted civil servant who went on the run after being accused of stealing two billion naira ($5.6 million).

The official managed to avoid arrest and return to Nigeria, where he was reappointed to the civil service. Buhari last week ordered his dismissal and arrest.