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Corruption probe: Commissioner denies media report indicting Ambode

As Ambode mums

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

Lagos State ex-Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Olusegun Banjo, has described media report credited to him where he indicted former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode during a probe at state House of Assembly as false and misrepresentation of what transpired.

Ambode
Former Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode

Recall that Banjo, who appeared before an Ad-hoc committee of the Lagos State House of Assembly, chaired by Fatai Mojeed, set up to probe purchase of 820 buses by Ambode administration’s was reported to have confirmed that the purchase was done without due process.

Most of the ex-commissioners stated that the former Governor carried out major activities without their knowledge without recourse to them.

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Banjo revealed that the purchase of the 820 buses by Ambode did not pass through his ministry.

Banjo, in a statement, released Thursday, added that the report was selective and partial.

The statement read in part: “My attention has been drawn to the news in the traditional and online media of Wednesday, October 16, 2019, with the caption “820 buses: Ex-commissioner indicts Ambode.

“I wish to state categorically and unequivocally that the news item reflects, unfortunately, a selective and partial reportage as well as a deliberate misrepresentation of what transpired during my meeting with the 9-man Ad-hoc committee investigating the purchase of 820 buses during the Administration of Mr Akinwunmi Ambode.

“I was invited by a letter dated October 11, 2019, to appear before the committee on Tuesday, 15th October 2019 to answer questions on the buses as they relate to the function of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget headed by me during the last administration.

“I attended the meeting and questions were asked under oath. Pointed questions relating to the activities of the Ministry were posed to me during the meeting. I informed the committee that I was appointed in February 2018 when the issue of bus purchase had already been on the ground.

“I also explained that the bus issues were not contained in the budget I managed but could have been in earlier budgets.

“Regarding the operations of the Ministry, I brought it to the attention of the house that the operating system needs to be reviewed and also mentioned other weaknesses in a professional manner.

“It is pertinent to note that these observations had earlier been included in my handing over note to the new administration and as it affects all arms of Government and not the executive alone.

“I was, therefore, contrary to the impression sought to be portrayed by the press, not saying anything new that had not been said before.

“To my utter chagrin, the press reports of my testimony before the committee are skewed in such a manner as to suggest that I had been scathingly critical of the last Administration in which I had served and had painted the executive in bad light. It is instructive to note that the operational lapses in the other arms of government that I also made specific mention of in the course of my testimony before the committee were deliberately ignored and were not reported on by the press in their coverage.

“I am deeply saddened and disappointed by such sensationalism by hitherto section of the press and by its uninhibited and deplorable abdication of a basic tenet of professional journalism- impartial reportage.

“I wish to state that I am not in a position to know what exactly transpired on the issue of the buses as I was not in Government when the issue was tabled and approved by the State Executive Council and neither was I drafted into the bus steering committee on the assumption of duty in February 2018.

“My response to questions asked by the committee under oath was intended to explain technical issues pertaining to the operations of the Ministry and explain the anomalies they noted and seek explanations to, and nothing said by me there was intended to or said in any manner as to condemn or indict anyone.”

Meanwhile, efforts to reach Governor Ambode’s media aide for comment at press time were unsuccessful as he did not answer several calls and text messages sent to his phone.

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