October 31, 2019

Bus purchase: Lagos Assembly heeds state high court ruling

Lagos Assembly, Ambode, Buses

…stays action on Ambode’s probe

…as Ambode’s lawmaker queries denial of access to the probe panel

Ambode, Lagos, bus probe, lawmakers, SPeaker

Former Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode

By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Ebunoluwa Sessou

Finally, Lagos State House of Assembly has bowed to the ruling of the State High Court to stay action on the probe of former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

The joint committees of the Lagos State House of Assembly probing the activities of the former governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode of the state over some of his expenditures after receiving the court order to stay action on the matter and adjourned the probe indefinitely.

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The court gave its ruling on Wednesday, October 30, in response to the prayers of former governor Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who sued the Assembly, which summoned him to appear before its committee over the purchase of 820 buses without the approval of the House.

Earlier, the Speaker, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa-led Assembly had mandated the then Adhoc Committee on Transport headed by, Mr. Fatai Mojeed and Committee on Budget and Economic Planning headed by Mr. Gbolahan Yishawu to probe the purchase of 820 buses by former governor Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.

The House had threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on Ambode and four others who served under the ex-governor as commissioners.

The 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.

The former commissioners involved included, Kazeem Adeniji, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Olusegun Banjo, Commissioner for Budget, Akinyemi Ashade, Commissioner for Finance, and Wale Oluwo, Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources.

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The Committees while expecting Ambode to appear during its sitting on Wednesday adjourned its sitting indefinitely after receiving the court order to stay action on the probe.

It will be recalled that the Ad-hoc Committee chairman, Mr. Fatai Mojeed revealed that, “Over N48 billion was spent for the purchase of the busses and N22 Billion were spent on import duties. 520 of the buses are still at the seaport.

“That the Accountant General of the state told the committee that she depended on the approval Ambode for the purchase of the busses and that no payment voucher was made available to the committee”, he said.

He added that they also demanded for the budget instrument used for the purchase, but that there was no budgetary provision for the purchases. “They could not produce any newspaper where the purchase of the buses were advertised.”

Another lawmaker within the committee, Mr. Gbolahan Yishawu, alleged that the former governor gave some directives on spendings without the approval of the lawmakers.

Addressing journalists on the matter after the adjournment by the Committee on Wednesday, Mr. Fatal Mojeed stated that the matter was adjourned indefinitely as the Committee got court summon to stay action on the matter and that they had to respect the opinion of the court.

“We are lawmakers we are not lawbreakers, which was why we had to adjourn the matter indefinitely. The people of Lagos should be expecting more from us,” he said.

Yishawu stressed that the Assembly was not being pushed by any individual on the matter while recalling that the issue dated back to 2017, when it was included in the appropriation law but was not approved by the House.

Meanwhile, the counsel to the former, Mr. Olaniran Obele from the chambers of Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), queried the ad-hoc committee for denying him entry into the probing panel.

Obele stated that they were at the Assembly to hand over the court ruling to the Chairman of the Committee and the Speaker of the House, but that the ruling was not accepted and that they were prevented from witnessing the Committee meeting.

“The court said that they should maintain status quo the reason for trying to serve notices to the Chairman of the Committee and the Speaker of the House, but they refused to accept it from us.

“We were around, while the preliminary of the proceeding was on, but we were not allowed in. We didn’t come to the Assembly to submit court proceedings alone, but we came to represent the former governor. If they didn’t take any step, we don’t have a problem with that, but it would be very sad if they took any action,” he said.

Vanguard News