The Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA), a non-governmental organisation, has accused Honourable Mudashiru Obasa, speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, of being reckless with funds meant for development, THE WITNESS reports.
In a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), and signed by its executive director, Comrade Buna Olaitan Isiak, HURMA called on the anti-graft agency to investigate and prosecute Hon. Obasa for “gross financial misconduct and abuse of office allegedly perpetrated by the speaker so as to avert a further bleeding of the public treasury under his care and restore sanity in the functioning of the state’s legislative establishment.”
Specifically, HURMA urged the anti-graft agency to probe Hon. Obasa’s alleged financial recklessness and cornering of public funds through illegitimate means; and the alleged corruption and compromise of laid down procedures and rules deliberately foisted on the workforce of the assembly.
Some of the allegations raised by HURMA against the speaker are:
“Purchase of a bullet-proof car at a market value of less than N100 Million, and the inflation of its price to N300 million. Apart from being inflated by a whopping 200 per cent, the purchase of the vehicle was done in a questionable manner contrary to procurement acts. This constitutes a flagrant abuse of office and the exercise of privilege with impunity in a country where majority of the citizens live on less than a dollar a day.
“Unilateral purchase of 40 cars for members of the assembly with neither prior discussion with members nor official approval by the house. We have it on good authority that the vehicles were imported by a notable politician for a failed political project. The speaker procured those vehicles and has since refused to either release their papers to the supposed beneficiaries or tender their receipt for retirement into the assembly’s accounts for obvious reasons as the cost of the vehicles is only known to the speaker.
“Purchase of 11 other vehicles without bidding, advertisement and rules and regulations guiding procurement or legislative approval. This is disdain for public accountability and established checks and balances.
“Use of fictitious companies as fronts for cornering public contracts and fleecing of public funds. The most notorious of these companies is a certain De-Kingrun Multipurpose Nigeria Limited with CAC No: RC 748741 where all his six children are shareholders. A probe of the businesses of the house since his leadership should reveal how notoriously Obasa has been breaching public trust by diverting contracts and projects into companies of his interest with the active connivance of the clerk of the house, Mr. Azeez Sanni Adebowale.
“Compromise of operational procedures, creation of an extra-legal hierarchy and privileging cronies at the expense of the system. This is by far the greatest calamity to befall the Lagos State House of Assembly under Obasa’s watch. Regulatory procedures have been in most cases set aside with the connivance of the clerk of the house with the ill-intent of carrying out governmental business for private gains and as a private concern. With these tactics, Obasa created an extra-legal hierarchy within the workforce of the state’s assembly where his cronies (including a concubine of his, popularly called Madam Speaker) reign supreme. It was on good authority that the girl named Nike Ajibose was promoted to level 9 without promotional exams because of immoral relationship with the Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, she recently traveled to United Kingdom with N9 million of LSHA money not approved but more importantly is the using the girl for money laundering activities.
“The recent allegation of illegal 2.4 billion naira spent within 11 months to purchase 80 cars for 40 members of LSHA must be thoroughly investigated by your establishment that remains the best anti-graft agency in Africa.”
While urging the EFCC to give its petition speedy consideration, HURMA further said that the actions and activities of Hon. Obasa at the Lagos State House of Assembly is detrimental to the interest of the people of Lagos State and his primary constituency which elected him to serve.
“It is also breach of public trust and a dent on the anti-corruption drive of the party (APC) and the government to which he belongs, hence the need to have him investigated and put under public scrutiny and account before further damage is done to the collective patrimony of Lagosians,” HURMA noted.
Hon. Obasa reacts
In line with THE WITNESS investigative journalism practice, our reporter contacted Tolani Abati, the chief press secretary to Hon. Obasa, for his reactions to the allegations.
In his response, the speaker denied allegations of illegal purchase of vehicles through a statement by Hon. Rotimi Olowo, a member of the Lagos State House of Assembly representing Shomolu Constituency 1 but did not address the issue of a company, De-Kingrun Multipurpose Nigeria Limited which HURMA alleged is owned and used by Hon. Obasa to perpetuate fraud.
Hon. Olowo was quoted to have said on the floor of the house during plenary on Monday March 16th, 2020, that the purchase of the official vehicles for members was not shrouded in secrecy by the leadership of the house, stressing that “they practically begged the speaker to buy sport utility vehicles (SUVs).”
“It was stated that the house bought vehicles worth N2.4 billion. Since I joined the House of Assembly, we always got two vehicles before the end of the assembly.
“In 2007, I got a vehicle and a backup vehicle before the end of the assembly. The vehicles are always budgeted for and it has been like that right from the time of Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji.
“We would always tell the speaker that the 8th assembly could not wind up without a backup vehicle for each of the members.
“The speaker used to tell us that the resources were not available and we later got the back-up in April 2019.
“In the 9th assembly, we just got our official vehicles in November/December 2019.
“None of the 11 new members got two vehicles. We insisted on Prado Jeep and Mr. Speaker didn’t want to give us, but we insisted on it.
“We are all beneficiaries of the largesse and yet we go about making insinuations and leaking information to the whole world,” Olowo said.
Olowo was further quoted to have said that the petition was full of lies meant to soil the leadership of the house and against the good image of the house.
“We also said that the buses that we were using for committee work were bad and we insisted that he should buy a new set and he did.”