Thursday, October 10,2019
The Lagos State House of Assembly has threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on the former governor of the state, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, and four others who served in his administration as commissioners.
This decision followed two preliminary reports presented on Thursday by two ad-hoc committees set up by the House to investigate the 820 buses purchased by Mr Ambode and to appraise the 2019 mid-year budget.
The former commissioners involved are Mr 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).
Presenting the preliminary report of a nine-man ad-hoc committee to probe the purchase of the 820 buses, the committee chairman, Fatai Mojeed, said that it was discovered that due process was not followed.
He added that the former governor used the refund of the Paris Club for the purchase of the busses without the approval of the House.
“He (Ambode) did not inform the House before commencing the purchase of the buses. Over N48 billion was spent on the purchase of the busses and N22 Billion was spent on import duties.
“520 of the buses are still at the seaport,” Mojeed told his colleagues during plenary.
He said the Accountant General of the State told the committee that she depended on the approval of Mr Ambode for the purchase of the busses and no payment voucher was made available to the committee.
The lawmaker also explained that they demanded the budget instrument used for the purchase, but there was no budgetary provision for it.
He added, “They could not produce any newspaper where the purchase of the buses was advertised.
“The committee invited 20 stakeholders, 16 of them complied while four of them refused against the constitutional provision.”
The ad-hoc committee chairman on mid-year budget review, Gbolahan Yishawu, alleged that the former commissioners were invited by his committee but refused to appear without giving any excuses for their absence.
Yishawu also claimed that the former governor gave some directives on spending without the approval of the lawmakers.
In their reactions, some members of the House suggested that since the former governor and those officials who worked with him had been invited by the two committees and refused to show up, warrant of arrest should be issued on them.
The lawmaker representing Alimosho Constituency I, Bisi Yusuf, told his colleagues that the House was empowered by the Constitution to issue a warrant of arrest on concerned individuals for their refusal to appear before the committees.
However, another lawmaker representing Badagry Constituency I, Ibrahim Layode, expressed a contrary view and urged his colleagues to tread with caution.
He advised that the concerned individuals should be invited through newspaper advertisements, stating that the former commissioners were likely to come across the publications.
On his part, the Majority Leader of the House, Sanai Agunbiade, said, “I want to observe that if they have been invited and refused to show up, we should summon them and if they still refuse, then a warrant of arrest can be issued.
“Now they’ve been invited, we should summon them by using the dailies before going to the extent of issuing an arrest warrant.”
Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, in his remarks noted that the matter was beyond the issue of an arrest warrant.
“When this House invites people and they refused to show up, it is like setting a bad precedent for others coming behind.
“The clerk should write them, including the ex-governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, and if they refused, we will do newspaper publications and after that, we will issue a warrant of arrest,” the speaker concluded.