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70bn bus purchase: Lagos Assembly threatens to arrest Ambode, former commissioners

Lagos State House of Assembly on Thursday threatened to issue a warrant of arrest against the former governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode, and four others who served under him 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 include Kazeem Adeniji (former attorney General and commissioner for justice), Olusegun Banjo (Budget), Akinyemi Ashade (Finance) and Wale Oluwo (Energy and Mineral Resources).

Presenting the preliminary report of a nine-man ad-hoc committee to probe the 820 buses purchased by the former governor, Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Fatai Mojeed, said that 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.

“He did not inform the House before commencing the purchase of the buses. Over N48 billion was spent for the purchase of the busses and N22billion was spent on import duties. 520 of the buses are still at the seaport,” he said.

He added that the accountant general of the state told the committee that she depended on the approval of Ambode for the purchase of the buses and that no payment voucher was made available to the committee.

The lawmaker further said that they also demanded the budget instrument used for the purchase, but discovered there was no budgetary provision for the purchases.

“They could not produce any newspaper where the purchase of the buses was advertised. The committee invited 20 stakeholders. Sixteen of them complied, while four of them refused, against the constitutional provision,” he added.

On his part, Chairman adhoc on Mid-Year Budget Review, Gbolahan Yishawu, alleged that the above mentioned commissioners were invited by his committee, but refused to appear and did not give any excuse for their absence.

Yishawu also claimed that the former governor gave some directives on spending without the approval of the lawmakers.

While reacting to the matter, some members of the House suggested that since the ex-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 member representing Alimosho Constituency 1, Hon Bisi Yusuf, told his colleagues that the House is empowered by the constitution to issue a warrant of arrest on the concerned individuals for their refusal to appear before the committees.

While expressing a contrary view, member representing Badagry Constituency 1, Ibrahim Layode, urged his colleagues to tread with caution.

He advised that the concerned individuals should be invited through newspaper advertisements, stating that the ex-officials were likely to come across the publications.

Majority Leader, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, said: “I want to observe that if they have been invited and refuse 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 arrest warrant.”

Speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, noted that the issue was beyond the issuing of arrest warrant, “because when this House invite people and they refuse to show up,  it’s like setting a bad precedence for others coming behind.

“The clerk should write them, including the ex-governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, and if they refuse, we will do newspaper publications and after that we will issue a warrant of arrest.”

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