A Lagos High Court Sitting in the Ikeja area has ordered parties to maintain the status quo in connection with the ongoing probe of procurement of 820 buses by the administration of the former Governor of the State, Akinwunmi Ambode.
The order was made a sequel to a request by the Counsel to the Lagos House of Assembly, Mrs Adenike Oshinowo who requested more time to file a response to the suit filed by the former governor.
Through his lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), the former governor had instituted a suit against the Assembly to contest the constitutionality of the probe of 820 buses which he says were procured based on budgetary approval as part of the Bus Reform Project of the State Government.
He added that the procurement was designed to revolutionise public transportation in line with global best practices.
Ambode had earlier asked the court to stop the state House of Assembly from probing him over the 820 mass transit buses purchased by his administration.
The Lagos lawmakers had accused Ambode of purchasing the 820 buses in breach of budgetary provisions. They issued a summons for the ex-governor to appear on Wednesday (today) before an ad hoc committee set up to probe the purchase of the buses.
The Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, threatened that the House would issue a warrant for Ambode’s arrest should he continue to shun invitation by the lawmakers.
But on Tuesday, Ambode, through his lawyer went before Justice Y.A. Akinsanya with an ex parte application, seeking an interim order of injunction against the lawmakers.
A Lagos State High Court Sitting in the Ikeja area has ordered the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, to appear before it in connection with the ongoing probe of the procurement of 820 buses by the administration of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya issued the order on Tuesday after hearing a motion ex-parte moved by Ambode’s lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo.
Other defendants mentioned in the order are the House Clerk, Mr A. Sanni; Chairman of the ad-hoc committee set up by the House to probe the procurement, Fatai Mojeed, and other members of the committee.
The lawmakers include Gbolahan Yishawu, Abdulrahman Yusuff, Yinka Ogundimu, Mojisola Meranda, Rasheed Makinde, Kehinde Joseph, Temitope Adewale, and Olanrewaju Afinni.
All those summoned are to appear before the judge by 9am on Wednesday.
Justice Adesanya also ordered that the originating processes and all the accompanying processes filed by the former governor should be served on the defendants and subsequently fixed Wednesday for the hearing of the motion for interlocutory injunction.
The former Governor had instituted the suit against the Assembly to contest the constitutionality of the probe of 820 buses which were procured based on budgetary approval as part of the Bus Reform Project of the state government designed to revolutionise public transportation in line with global best practices.
According to his statement before the court, Ambode said contrary to deliberate misrepresentation of facts by the lawmakers, the procurement of the 820 buses was well captured in the 2018 Appropriation Law which was duly approved by the House.
“In Section 1 of the Bill, the first defendant (House of Assembly) authorised the total budget for the year 2018 to be One Trillion, Forty Six Billion, One Hundred and Twenty One Million, One Hundred and Eighty-One Thousand, Six Hundred and Eighty Naira (N1,046,121,181,680), comprising the sum of Three Hundred and Forty Seven Billion, Thirty-Eighty Million, Nine Hundred and Thirty-Eight Thousand, Eight-Hundred and Seventy-Two Naira (N347,038,938,872) only, and Six Hundred and Ninety-Nine Billion, Eighty-Two Million, Two Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Eight Hundred and Eighty Naira (N699,082,242,808) only, as the recurrent and capital expenditures respectively.
“Part of the items authorised by the Bill under capital expenditure was “LAGBUS Public Transport Infrastructure (MEPB); part financing of 820 buses” which was Item Eight under Schedule 1- Part C of the Bill,” the former governor averred.
He added that having prescribed the manner of withdrawal of funds in Sections 3 and 4 of the 2018 Appropriation Law, it was unconstitutional for the House to attach another condition in Section 9 of the law for further approval to be sought before incurring any expenditure on the purchase of the buses.
Highlighting the specific breach of his constitutional rights to fair hearing by the House, Ambode said during proceedings of the Assembly on August 27, 2019, some lawmakers thoroughly vilified and disparaged him as having purchased the buses without budgetary approval and that the procurement was a waste of public funds, while at the end of the proceedings, the House resolved to constitute an ad-hoc committee to probe the procurement.
He said it was surprising that the very lawmakers who contributed actively in vilifying, disparaging and denigrating him constituted the bulk of the members of the committee, which was a clear derogation of his right to a fair hearing.
Ambode explained that in continuation of deliberate misrepresentation of facts of the issue, the House falsely claimed that an invitation had been extended to him to appear before the committee but that he failed to honour the said invitation.
“On Thursday 10th October, 2019, the fourth and fifth defendants (Mojeed and Yishawu) who are Chairman and member of the Committee respectively set up by the first defendant pursuant to the provisions of Section 129 of the Constitution again raised on the floor of the House, an allegation that the claimant (Ambode) was invited to appear before the Committee but that he failed to do so whereupon the second defendant (Speaker) ruled that a warrant of arrest would be issued against the claimant if he refuses to appear before the Committee.
“The claimant states that no letter of invitation was delivered to him before the fourth and fifth defendants made the false allegation against the claimant which was widely reported by various national newspapers in the country.
“Further to the foregoing paragraphs, the first defendant had also invited some of the former commissioners who served under my government to appear before the first defendant on Tuesday, 15th October 2019. These included former commissioners for energy, agriculture and economic planning and budget respectively amongst others.
“After the proceedings of the Committee on 15th October 2019, the first defendant represented to the public that the former commissioners that appeared before it had indicted me in their testimonies. The information was widely published by national newspapers on Wednesday 16th October 2019.
“Contrary to the information made to the public by the first defendant, the said former commissioners for energy and economic planning and budget who were represented by the first defendant to have indicted me, made public statements on Thursday 17th October 2019 denying that they ever indicted me in their testimonies before the committee. The denials were widely published by online newspapers on Thursday 17th October 2019 and national newspapers on Friday 18th October 2019.
“The first Defendant falsely represented to the public that the said commissioners indicted me in their testimonies before the Committee so as to justify my indictment by the first defendant which indictment members of the first defendant had hitherto threatened to carry out,” Ambode averred.
He added that the House Committee and indeed the entire members of the House had already adjudged him as having committed wastage of public funds by the procurement of the buses in question and had also already determined that the procurement was done by him as opposed to the state government.
The former governor said it was obvious that the lawmakers were totally biased against him having regard to their pronouncements on the floor of the House by reason of which he believed that his right to fair hearing as guaranteed by the Constitution had been seriously compromised by the defendants.
He, therefore, sought among others the court’s declaration that the power of the House to pass a resolution under Section 128(1) of the Constitution to cause an inquiry into his conduct as Governor was subjected to right to fair hearing as guaranteed by Section 36(1) of the Constitution.
Ambode also asked for a declaration that the resolution of the House setting up a nine-man committee comprising of the fourth to twelfth defendants to investigate all transactions in respect of the 820 buses said by the defendants to have been procured by him derogated from his right as guaranteed by Section 36(1) of the Constitution and therefore, was unconstitutional, null and void.
Other claims are: “A DECLARATION that having regard to the provisions of sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Appropriation Law of Lagos State 2018, sections 8 and 9 of the Law which required the approval of the House of Assembly of Lagos State before certain expenditure of money is incurred by the Executive Branch of the State is not in accord with any provision of the Constitution and accordingly is unconstitutional, null and void.
“A DECLARATION that it is not lawful for the Defendants to represent or continue to represent to the Public that the Claimant, AKINWUNMI AMBODE, procured 820 buses in breach of budgetary approval.
“A DECLARATION that the powers of the 1st Defendant under sections 103, 128 and 129 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended does not include power to indict the Claimant as contemplated by sections 66(1)(h), 137(1)i and 182(1)i of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.
“AN INJUNCTION restraining the Defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agents and or representatives from compelling the Claimant, in any manner whatsoever, to appear before the Defendants pursuant to the Resolution passed by the Defendants on 27th August 2019 or any other Resolution passed in respect of the subject matter of this Suit.
“AN INJUNCTION restraining the Defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agents and or representatives from representing or continue to represent to the Public that the Claimant, AKINWUNMI AMBODE, procured 820 buses in breach of budgetary approval.”
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.
The Lagos State House Assembly has set-up a committee to investigate the purchase of 820 buses by the administration of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode.
Members of the Assembly constituted the panel on Tuesday during plenary, saying it was important to investigate the purchase of the 820 buses out of the 5,000 buses proposed by the former governor for mass transit in the state.
They said the vehicles were purchased despite objection by the House.
In a motion titled ‘Lagos State House of Assembly Motion Number II’, a lawmaker Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti Osa II) explained that the House noted that at the Executive/ Legislative parley held in September 2017, Mr Ambode informed the lawmakers that 5,000 buses would be bought by the state government.
He stated that the executive proposed to spend N17 billion to purchase the buses in the 2017 budget, but the Assembly did not approve the request.
Yishawu said, “In the 2018 and 2019 budgets, the state government proposed N24 Billion and N7 Billion respectively, but these were not approved.
“The state government still went ahead to import 820 buses at N7 Billion, and out of them, 520 are still awaiting clearance at the ports.”
The lawmaker added that the House was worried that 520 buses were awaiting clearance from the bonded warehouse and the port, stressing that they were purchased with taxpayers’ money without approval.
He, thereafter, submitted that the House should set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate all the issues relating to the purchase of the buses.
Yishawu also asked his colleagues to investigate the cost of the purchase of the buses and other issues surrounding the purchase to prevent a reoccurrence.
He said, “The state government requested waivers for the importation of the buses and it was not granted. The value of the buses was overrated; some of the buses are still in the ports and they are attracting demurrage.
“N45 Billion would be spent on the total purchase of the buses and we need to prevent such an occurrence in the future.”
In his remarks, the Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, said the House needed to prevent waste because the expenditure had been done.
According to him, the vehicles are in the ports and they have been there for almost a year and the state will continue to suffer if the lawmakers allow the buses to stay in the ports.
“We should be the regulators of transporters; the state should not operate the buses. How much we are giving the buses out should be addressed.
“We should get the buses to the roads and save the state from further wastes,” he said.
The House subsequently resolved to set up a committee headed by Mr Fatal Mojeed (Ibeju Lekki II) to look into the matter and report to the lawmakers in due course.
Members of the committee, according to the Speaker, included Yishawu, Bisi Yusuff (Alimosho I), Olanrewaju Afinni (Lagos Island II), Rasheed Makinde (Ifako Ijaiye II), Yinka Ogundimu (Agege II), Mojisola Miranda (Apapa I) and others.
Speaker Obasa directed the committee to invite the Accountant-General of the state, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, and others involved in the purchase to give their account on the purchase of the vehicles.
He also told them to invite the present Commissioner for Finance, the Managing Director of LAMATA and others.
In his contribution, Hon. Yinka Ogundimu (Agege II) stated that the House needed to investigate every transaction that had to do with the procurement of the buses.
He added that it would become a bad precedent if the House did not do anything about the matter.
“A huge amount of money still needed to be paid on the purchase of these buses. Whoever has erred should be brought to book,” he said.
The House subsequently went on a break until further notice for members to embark on various programmes.
It is expected to hold town hall meetings across the 40 constituencies of the state on September 10, 2019, among other activities.
“This morning, operatives of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission visited the Epe Country home and Parkview Ikoyi residence of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, former Governor of Lagos State, with warrants to conduct a search. These searches were carried out extensively and at the end of the exercise the operatives left without any incident.
“The former Governor reiterates that the EFCC has till date not had any direct communication with him on any subject matter whatsoever and if or when it occurs he is ready and willing to respond.
“The former governor wishes to assure his supporters and the generality of Lagosians to continue to remain calm and law-abiding as there is no cause for alarm,” the statement read in part.
The former governor said he believes in the rule of law and due process and remains grateful for the opportunity to have served Lagos State diligently and conscientiously.
It would be recalled that Ambode, in an earlier response to allegations by the EFCC that it had frozen certain accounts linked to him, insisted that no account of his contained N9.9bn let alone being frozen by the Commission as those accounts were opened and operated by the Lagos State Government.
“We need to state for the records that the EFCC did not raid Ambode’s house. It is instructive that his administration, like other former governors, is under investigation, since they no longer constitutionally enjoy immunity against prosecution.
“The Commission hereby states with a high sense of responsibility that the operatives did not raid Ambode’s residence.
“Whatever the Commission is presently doing with regards to the investigation is in line with its mandate and the rule of law,” the statement read in part.
However, viral videos on social media show EFCC operatives in front of Ambode’s Epe residence in a white bus and being resisted by youths in the area.
Videos of Epe Youths resisting EFCC’s invasion of Ambode’s residence in Epe… EFCC has however denied such attempt. Who is deceiving who? pic.twitter.com/bYTITyzOzx
The immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, says no account of his contained N9.9bn let alone being frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said this in a statement on Friday by his media aide, Habib Aruna, while reacting to the ruling of the Federal High Court which ordered the freezing of three bank accounts linked to the Lagos State Government.
Justice Chuka Obiozor made the order on Tuesday following an ex parte application by the EFCC over alleged N9.9bn fraud.
The commission had urged the judge to freeze the account ‘pending the conclusion of the investigation and possible prosecution of Adewale Adesanya, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Chief of Staff to former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’.
Mr Ambode, however, said he served Lagos well with utmost dedication and integrity and his record is clear and his mind joyful for the opportunity to have served the state diligently.
According to him, there has been no communication between him and the EFCC on the issue and the accounts in question belong to the Lagos State government and not any individual.
The statement said, “Those accounts were opened in the course of normal operations by the Lagos State Government for its administrative purposes and not for the former governor’s personal transactions as was being wrongly insinuated and have been operated to ensure smooth operations of government activities by previous and present administrations.
“The former governor was not and will never be involved in any unauthorised use of government property and resources.
“We strongly believe that after four demanding years as Chief Executive of Lagos State, Mr Ambode is entitled to some deserved rest with his family and loved ones without the unwarranted attacks on his well-earned reputation.”
The former governor, therefore called for support for the All Progressives Congress (APC) both at the state and national levels, in order to continue to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people of Lagos and Nigerians respectively.
He, therefore, reassured Nigerians that he remains committed to the ideals of President Muhammadu Buhari and the founding fathers of the ruling party for national growth and development.
Ambode also extended warm Sallah greetings to the President, and his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; as well as the APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, among others.
African and Nigerian football legends lit up the Agege Stadium during a testimonial match in honour of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode as he ends his tenure in office.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Habib Haruna, on Saturday, described the game, which was watched by a full capacity crowd at the stadium as thrilling.
The game had the biggest Nigerian stars coached by Olympic gold medal-winning coach, Bonfere Joe.
The Nigerian legend team had; Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Samson Siasia, Daniel Amokachi, Augustine Eguavoen, Mutiu Adepoju, Emmanuel Amunike, Taribo West, Uche Okechukwu, Garba Lawal, Peter Rufai and Ike Shorunmu.
Others include Finidi George, Victor Ikpeba, Obafemi Martins, Tijani Babangida, Julius Aghahowa and Sam Sodje, while Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shuaibu and Ayo Makun, popularly known as AY, featured in the game.
Meanwhile, The African legend team, coached by former U-17 Golden Eaglets coach, Fanny Amun had the likes of El Hadji Diouf, Diomansy Kamara, Titi Kamara, Christian Karembeu, Stephen Appiah, Didier Zokora, Lomana Lua Lua, Khalilou Fadiga and Seydou Keita.
The game opened with a guard of honour for Governor Ambode by both teams, as he made way to perform the official kick-off for the match.
Kanu Nwankwo opened the scoring in the first half before Titi Kamara equalised for the African legends within a space of two minutes. A fowl in the penalty box by Taribo West on El-Hadji Diouf was converted by Titi Kamara which put the African stars 3-1 at half time.
In the second half, goals from either side ended the game in a thrilling 4-4 draw.
The Governor was also inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Nigeria Supporters Club (NSC) for his unwavering support towards sports development and especially football in Nigeria.
The event was also spiced up by music performances by top Nigerian artistes, including Two Baba, Small Doctor, among others.
The president inaugurated an ultra-modern 170-bed Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialist hospital located within the premises of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), The Eko Theatre, Oshodi International Airport Road, Oshodi Transport Interchange and 820 mass transit buses.
The President after the ceremonies headed back to Abuja.
The UEFA Champions league trophy arrived Lagos on Wednesday in the company of its Ambassador and former captain of Barcelona FC of Spain, Carles Puyol and Nigerian football legend, Austin JayJay Okocha, on a tour of cities.
The trophy was received by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who was represented by the Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr Kweku Tandoh at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja.
The delegation is in Nigeria with the trophy on a three-day tour to connect with football lovers.
Governor Ambode expressed delight at the fact that the organisers of the tour considered Lagos as one of the states to visit, adding that the development was particularly gratifying more so that the synergy between sports and entertainment as well as tourism had been massively played up in the last four years.
“I must say I am very pleased with the organisers of this Trophy Tour for deeming it fit to take the UEFA Champions League Cup to Lagos. We are particularly excited because our administration has focused on the synergy between sports, tourism, entertainment and the arts, among others and the people can see the positive effects of our efforts in that regard.”
He added that “We are pleased to also welcome Barcelona FC and Champions League legend, Carles Puyol to Lagos, as well as our legend, JayJay Okocha to Lagos House.”
The Governor’s representative assured of adequate security by the relevant security and government agencies have been contacted, assuring that all the activities lined-up as part of the trophy tour would be hugely successful.
As part of the schedule lined up for the tour, the organisers said that there would be a road show from Maryland Bus Stop to Ikeja City Mall, among other activities.
“So far, from what I have been briefed, we have rescued about 25 people and some are already dead but we were earlier informed that it was a school, the building is not technically a school, it is a residential building that was actually accommodating an illegal school so to speak on the second floor.
“Like we have said, we have been carrying out a lot of integrity tests on the buildings in this neighborhood and as you can see, some of them have been marked for demolition but we get resistance from landlords but we must continue to save lives and we would intensify our efforts to see that those have failed our integrity test, we would ensure that they are quickly evacuated and we bring the structures down,” he said.
24 hours after the incident occurred, the rescue agencies say they have reached ‘ground zero’ on the site, meaning that all the rubbles had been excavated and there was no evidence that anyone was still trapped.
According to the government, all relevant stakeholders including the Ministry of Health are now intensifying efforts to save the lives of those who have been rescued.
Meanwhile, Governor Ambode commiserated with families of the deceased and promised to foot the hospital bills of those receiving treatment.
“On the part of the government, we would immediately take care of whatever it is that we can do, including the hospital bills,” he said.