Ambode: Assembly committee bows to court order, adjourns probe

The joint committees of the Lagos State House of Assembly probing the activities of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode over some of his expenditures has bowed to the ruling of a state high court to stay action on the matter and adjourned the matter until further notice.

Following state high court ruling on Wednesday October 30, in response to the prayers of Ambode, who sued the Assembly, which summoned him to appear before its committee over the purchase of 820 buses without the approval of the House.

The Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa-led Assembly had mandated the then Adhoc committee on Transport headed by, Hon. Fatai Mojeed, and committee on Budget and Economic Planning headed by Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu to probe the purchase of 820 buses by Ambode.

The House had threatened to issue warrant of arrest on Ambode and four others who served under the ex-governor 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 included, 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).

“Over N48 billion was spent for the purchase of the busses and N22 Billion were spent on import duties. 520 of the buses are still at the seaport,” Mojeed had said.

He said further that the Accountant General of the state told the committee that she depended on the approval Ambode for the purchase of the busses 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 where the purchase of the buses were advertised.”

On his part, Gbolahan Yishawu, Chairman adhoc on mid-year budget review, alleged that the above mentioned commissioners were invited by his committee but that they refused to appear without giving any excuses for their absence.

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

Addressing journalists on the matter after the adjournment by the Committee on Wednesday, Hon. Fatal Mojeed stated that the matter was adjourned indefinitely as the Committee got court summon to stay action on the matter and that they had to respect the opinion of the court. 

“We are lawmakers we are not law breakers, which was why we had to adjourn the matter indefinitely. The people of Lagos should be expecting more from us,” he said. 

Also speaking, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu, said that the House was not trying to witch hunt anybody or put anybody on the spot for any reason.

Yishawu stressed that the Assembly was not being  pushed by any individual on the matter, while recalling that the issue dated back to 2017, when it was included in the appropriation law but was not approved by the House.

However, Mr. Olaniran Obele, from the chambers of Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), the counsel of former governor Akinwunmi Ambode, protested that they were not allowed into the committee meeting.

Obele stated that they were at the Assembly to hand over the court summon to the Chairman of the Committee and the Speaker of the House, but that the summon was not accepted and that they were prevented from witnessing the Committee meeting.

“The court said that nothing should be done about the matter and we tried to serve notices to the Chairman of the Committee and the Speaker of the House, but they refused to accept it from us.

“We were around, while the preliminary of the proceeding was on, but we were not allowed in. We didn’t come here to submit court proceedings alone, but we came to represent the former governor. If they didn’t take any step, we don’t have problem with that, but it would be very sad if they took any action,” he said.

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