Lagos – The Lagos State House of Assembly on Thursday threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on Akinwunmi Ambode, the former state governor, and four others who served as commissioners under him.
This 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 include Kazeem Adeniji (former 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 that probed the 820 buses purchased by the former governor, Fatai Mojeed, chairman of the committee, said it was discovered that due process was not followed in the purchase of the buses.
Mojeed added that the former governor used the Paris Club refund 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,” he said.
“Over N48 billion was spent for the purchase of the buses and N22 billion were spent on import duties. 520 of the buses are still at the seaport.”
He said further that the accountant general of the state told the committee that she depended on Ambode’s approval for the purchase of the buses, and that no payment voucher was made available to the committee.
The lawmaker 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 in which the purchase of the buses were advertised,” Mojeed said.
“The committee invited 20 stakeholders, 16 of them complied, while four of them refused, against constitutional provision.”
On his part, Gbolahan Yishawu, chairman, ad hoc committee on mid-year budget review, alleged that the above mentioned commissioners were invited by his committee, but they 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.
Some members, while reacting to the matter, suggested that since the ex-governor and those officials who worked with him have been invited by the two committees and refused to show up, warrant of arrest should be issued on them.
Bisi Yusuf, member representing Alimosho Constituency 1, 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, Ibrahim Layode, member representing Badagry Constituency 1, urged his colleagues to tread with caution.
He advised that the House should invite the concerned individuals through newspaper advertisements, adding that the ex-officials are likely to come across the publications.
Sanai Agunbiade, House Majority Leader, 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 arrest warrant.”
Mudashiru Obasa, speaker of the House, noted that the issue is beyond arrest warrant, “because when this House invites people and they refuse to show up, it’s like setting a bad precedent for others coming behind.
“The clerk should write them, including the ex-governor, and if they continue to be defiant, we will do newspaper publications and after that we will issue a warrant of arrest,” Obasa added.