Lagos Assembly threatens to arrest Ambode, others

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The Lagos State House of Assembly yesterday threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and four others who served under him as commissioners. This decision followed two preliminary reports presented by two different ad-hoc committees set up by the House to investigate the 820 buses purchased by Ambode and to appraise the 2019 mid-year budget.

Chairman of the nine-man ad-hoc committee set up to probe the 820 buses purchased by the former governor, Fatai Mojeed, while presenting the preliminary report, said it was discovered that due process was not followed in the purchase of the buses. Mojeed added that the former governor used the refund of the Paris Club for the purchase of the buses without the approval of the House. The lawmaker added that they demanded the budget instrument used for the purchase, but that there was no budgetary provision for it.

On his part, Chairman, Ad-hoc Committee on Mid-Year Budget Review, Gbolahan Yishawu, alleged that the commissioners involved were invited by the committee, but refused to appear without giving any excuse for their absence. Some aggrieved House members argued that since the former governor and the officials concerned had failed to honor invitations by the two committees; a warrant of arrest should be issued on them. But the Assembly Speaker, Mudasiru Obasa suggested that: “The Clerk should write them, including the former governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode and if they refuse, we will do newspaper publications and after that, we will issue a warrant of arrest.”

In another development, the Assembly has dismissed a petition alleging receipt of $200,000 bribe by one of its members, Moshood Olanrewaju Oshun, representing Lagos Mainland Constituency II in the Assembly. Oshun had been accused of collecting the bribe from three companies to cover up for their non-execution of contracts worth over N9 billion awarded to them by the immediate past Akinwunmi Ambode administration.

In a petition, which was submitted to the Speaker, Mudasiru Obasa, by an anti-corruption campaign organisation, Stop Corruption Now Initiative and signed by its President, Olakunle Omisade, Osun, who is the Chairman of the House ad-hoc Committee on Environmental Sanitation, was alleged to have collected the said illicit money from contractors who were awarded various contracts bordering on the environment by the Akinwunmi Ambode administration to the tune of N9 billion paid upfront against established rules.

Raising the matter under urgent Matter of Public Importance yesterday, Tunde Braimoh stated that the Speaker sent the petition to the House Committee on Public Petition, LASIEC, Human Rights and Judiciary, which he chaired, on Tuesday. Braimoh, who stated that the address of the petitioner was not traceable and that there was no phone number where the petitioner could be located, said: “The committee considered this and noted that the petitioner could not be located. We noticed some discrepancies in the petition, and it was frivolous and smack of acrimony.

“It is a criminal offence that attracts punishment. The petitioner is not even available to establish his case. Under the rules of the House, the petitioner ought to disclose his address.” The committee then recommended that the petition should be struck out because the petitioner was faceless, adding that members of the public should embrace decorum in approaching the House and beware of information in the social media.

While the Majority Leader of the House, Sanai Agunbiade (Ikorodu 1) stated that the writer of the petition had a motive, which could be malicious and scandalous, Tijani Olumo (Ajeromi Ifelodun 1) said that the matter was a diversion to take the Assembly away from its focus.

Obasa, therefore, urged his colleagues to disregard “the frivolous petition,” saying: “It is common with my years of experience to see such a petition only for the petitioner not to come at the committee level. It is either the petitioners were looking for favour. I have received reports even from television stations on the matter.

“This is wrong and the media should scrutinise whatever they receive about people. When you damage people’s reputation, how do you want to mend it. You don’t think about his wife and children. What do you want him to tell them. I am even used to it as the Speaker because it happened to my predecessors,” he said.