The Lagos State House of Assembly has granted the request of the State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for the state government to assume full ownership of the privately-owned Lekki Concession Company Limited (LCC).
This follows the Executive’s request received by the lawmakers on June 21 and the subsequent directive to the House Committee on Finance to further look into it and report its findings to the House.
Six weeks after the mandate was given, the House Committee on Finance led by Rotimi Olowo submitted its report to the lawmakers.
Giving his presentation on Monday, Olowo explained that upon the buy-out of all the shareholdings interest of LCC by the state, the government has become the subsisting shareholders of the company with 75% shareholding while the Office of Public-Private Partnerships was left with the remaining 25% shareholding.
According to him, the original $53.9 million loan obligation from a private sector facility – the African Development Bank (AFDB) had been resolved after series of engagements between the bank, LCC, and the state government.
This was to convert the loan to a public sector facility with the benefit of a considerable reduction in interest charges of 1.02% of $1.12 million bi-annual, as against the 4.12% of $2.746 million per bi-annual, thus giving a savings of $1.16 million bi-annual or $3.24 million per annum.
At the end of Olowo’s presentation, the House granted the executive the approval to convert the AFDB loan to the public sector loan, backed up by a sovereign Federal Government guarantee on behalf of the state government.
It also authorised the state government to issue a counter-guarantee in favour of the Federal Government along with an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) to deduct from Lagos State Government statutory allocations.
According to the report, the servicing of the loan obligations will be a maturity till August 2034.
Contributing to a debate on the report, a member of the House, Gbolahan Yishawu, supported the recommendation which he described as a smart move.
He believes the interest rate will not affect what the state is spending on capital expenditure. Rather, it will reduce the interest risk and rate by moving the loan from the private to the public sector.
Another lawmaker, Abiodun Tobun, on his part, said saving 3.1% in interest rate difference would further reduce the burden on the state government and encourage the savings to be used to develop other sectors of the economy.
For his colleague, Femi Saheed, the restructuring of the loan is an indication of transparency in the state financing and gives add-on flexibility for the additional years granted for the repayment of the loan.
He deemed the request a standard financial procedure practised all over the world.
The Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, has directed the acting Clerk of the House, Olalekan Onafeko, to send a clean copy of the resolution of the lawmakers to the governor.
“I know the level of comradeship we shared. This special plenary is really not to mourn him, because he was a distinguished Nigerian who distinguished himself in service.
“He led a fulfilled life on the home front and had an outstanding engagement on the political trajectory of this country,” Sanwo-Olu was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his spokesman, Gboyega Akosile.
The governor praised Osinowo, recognising how “he was able to galvanise and energise colleagues at legislative sittings.”
Sanwo-Olu explained that following the lawmaker’s contributions to good governance and development of Lagos, the State Executive Council held a special session to celebrate him.
“At the State’s cabinet meeting yesterday (Monday), we appreciated his contributions and held a special session in his honour.
“The level of political dexterity of the late Senator Sikiru Adebayo Osinowo and his unique personality is not in the contest, given the testimonies and tributes since his death,” he said.
Osinowo, popularly known as Pepperito, represented Lagos East Senatorial District before his death on June 15.
The late lawmaker was a member of the State House of Assembly for 16 years, serving four consecutive terms before he was elected into the Senate in 2019.
The Lagos State House of Assembly has passed an emergency bill to help the state combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The bill, sponsored by the Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa, is tagged the Emergency Coronavirus Pandemic Bill 2020.
It affords the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the legislative concurrence to spend an initial N20 billion to effectively curtail the virus and enforce compliance by residents in the state.
The bill was presented on the floor of the chamber on Thursday by the Deputy Majority Leader, Noheem Adams, after which it scaled the first and second readings.
It was then passed to the House Committee on Health for further legislative actions.
The bill was later laid before the House by the Committee Chairman on Health, Hakeem Sokunle, after which it scaled the third reading as a result of the urgent requirements to ensure its speedy passage.
It gives the governor the opportunity to make recourse back to the House before any regulations.
The bill also stipulates a fine of N100,000 for defaulters, one-month imprisonment in the correctional centre, or three months community service.
Where the offence is not spelled out, it attracts N200,000 and also allows the leadership of the various arms of government to structure their own restriction format.
Section 8 of the bill makes provision for the Coronavirus Trust Fund, while the bill empowers the governor to declare a state of emergency of up to three months if the situation requires so.
In his remarks, the lawmaker representing Ikeja Constituency II, Adedamola Kasunmu, believes it is important to alleviate the impact of the virus on the economy of Lagos.
He noted that the bill would enable the executive to expend necessary funds to curtail the spread of the virus by providing adequate facilities in the state-owned hospitals.
Mr Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti-Osa II), in his contribution, said, “We urge Lagosians to bear with us. Pandemics are not new, but the way government and people react to it matters to 150 states in the world.
“Lagos recorded the first case, so they should look at the possibility to broaden it to capture much more.”
Another lawmaker, Rotimi Olowo (Somolu I), noted that the spread of the virus was unprecedented and as a result, stringent measures needed to be taken to forestall the pandemic.
Presiding over the plenary, Speaker Obasa said the contingency plan in the budget cannot sort out the current issue.
“Government needs to be seen doing something, making effective pronouncements. The governor can make recourse back to the House if need be.
“If the budget procedure takes much time that can’t suffice, the kick-off fund will help,” he explained.
The Lagos State House of Assembly has suspended two of its principal officers – the Chief Whip of the House, Rotimi Abiru, and the Deputy House Majority Leader, Olumuyiwa Jimoh.
The lawmakers also suspended two other members of the House – Moshood Oshun (Lagos Mainland Constituency II) and Kazeem Adewale (Ibeji Lekki Constituency II) – indefinitely during plenary on Monday.
Announcing the suspension of the members, the Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa stated that the House was the hope of the people and the heartbeat of democracy and that it should be well guided.
He said, “I, hereby, invoke Section 68 and Section 70 4 (a, b) 2 and 3 of the House Rules in respect of gross misconduct, insubordination, and action that can destablise this House, I hereby move that Moshood Oshun and Raheem Adewale be placed on suspension indefinitely.”
The two decisions were supported through voice votes by the members present during plenary.
The request for the removal of the two principals and change in the leadership was contained in a letter read on the floor of the House by the Clerk of the House, Azeez Sanni.
Sanni stated that the 26 members that signed the letter wished to notify the House “to change the leadership of the House, including Rotimi Abiru as the Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip, Olumuyiwa Jimoh.”
The removal of the principal officers and suspension of the two members came amidst speculation that there were critical issues that could divide the House and “that more revelations might come in the coming days.”
Meanwhile, the House has announced the death of a principal legislative officer on Grade Level 12, Debo Adegbesan, who died in the early hours of Monday at the age of 37.
The House, thereafter, adjourned sitting until Tuesday.
The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has struck out a suit filed by former Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, seeking an injunction to restrain the State House of Assembly from probing him over the purchase of 820 buses.
In her ruling on Thursday, Justice Yetunde Adesanya upheld the preliminary objections of the lawmakers and held that the court lacked the jurisdiction to stop them from going ahead with the probe.
Justice Adesanya also ruled that the ad-hoc committee set up to investigate the former governor was a fact-finding committee.
According to the judge, an investigation is not an indictment and “the claimant (Ambode) has not been indicted”.
“An invitation by an agency of government cannot in any way cause a breach of the threat of the fundamental rights of the claimant.
“I hereby find that the claimant’s action is an invitation to the court to cripple the legislative exercise of the statutory power of the Lagos State House of Assembly under Section 128 and 129 of the 1999 Constitution.
“That is not the function of the court, and no court of law should accede such invitation. The claimant’s suit is hereby struck out,” she held.
Meanwhile, the former governor has faulted the ruling of the court, stressing that it would challenge the decision.
His lawyers told Channels Television on the court premises that they would immediately test the court’s judgment in the Court of Appeal.
Breach Of Budgetary Approval
At the last sitting of the court on January 16, Ambode through his lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo, told the court that the lawmakers needed to act in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
Oyetibo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said that the former governor’s rights under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution were being violated.
“His case is that the exercise of the lawmakers’ power is subject to the provision of the Constitution particularly the right to fair hearing as contained in Section 36.
“Secondly, the court will determine whether the exercise of the power of the House of Assembly is subject to the provisions of the Constitution under Section 128,” he said.
The lawyer added, “If the court answers the second question in the affirmative, it has the right to ask if those rights have been violated by the House of Assembly.
“We are also asking your lordship to determine the validity of a law or provision that will require the executive to come back to the House to seek disbursement of funds approved under the budget.
“The fifth relief is tied to the fourth relief: The lawmakers have been accusing the claimant of breach of budgetary approval. If there is no need for budgetary approval, they cannot accuse him of a breach.”
He, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the objection of the lawmakers with substantial costs.
A Premature Suit
Counsel to the lawmakers, Olukayode Enitan, on his part, challenged the competence of the court to hear the suit based on three grounds.
“The first ground is that it is ultra vires (beyond legal power or authority) – that is, the power of the court to interfere with any investigation of the Lagos State House of Assembly or any arm of government based on the principle of separation of powers,” said Enitan who is also SAN.
He added, “The second ground is that the suit is pre-emptive and premature and not actionable, and the third ground is that it discloses no reasonable cause of action. I urge the court to decline jurisdiction as this suit is premature.”
Enitan decried that rather than accept an invitation to attend a probe sought by the House of Assembly, Ambode “rushed” to the court.
He insisted that the former governor has not been indicted but only invited to come and explain certain issues to the lawmakers.
Ambode seeks an injunction restraining the lawmakers to compel him to appear before them pursuant to a resolution passed by House of Assembly, as well as any other resolutions passed in respect of the probe.
He also sought an injunction restraining the respondents from representing or continuing to represent to the public that the he procured 820 buses in breach of budgetary approval.
The former governor sought a court declaration that the provisions of Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 and 9 of the Appropriation Law of Lagos State, 2018, requiring the approval of the House of Assembly before certain expenditure of money should be incurred by the executive arm, was not in accordance with constitutional provisions.
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.”
A group of protesters staged a protest on Wednesday at the Lagos State House of Assembly over the planned impeachment of Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.
The protesters stormed the Lagos Assembly with their placards and banners bearing varied inscriptions that showed their displeasure at the move by the Lagos state legislators to topple Ambode’s government.
Below are more photos from the scene of the protest.
The Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday threatened to ban commercial motorcycle popularly known as Okada out rightly from the State.
The Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji made the threat following a report on the destruction of government properties by the protesting Okada riders along Ikorodu road.
The House frowned at the attitude of Okada riders in the metropolis, calling on the state government to further strengthen security agencies to protect lives and property.
Mr Ikuforiji, while reacting to the incident said the House would not hesitate to ban Okada out rightly if the riders continue to destroy government property and constitute nuisance in the State.
Some Okada riders went on the rampage in various parts of Lagos State on Monday to protest the ban on them from plying 475 roads in the metropolis.
At Onipanu, on Ikorodu Road, the protesters vandalised about 10 BRT buses during the violent protest against the Lagos State Government.
Armed with sticks, iron roads and other dangerous weapons, the Okada riders hauled stones at BRT buses on Ikorodu road at Onipanu and Palmgrove bus stops.
There was pandemonium in the area and a team of policemen from the Rapid Response Squad, RRS was deployed to the area to quell the protest. It was gathered that some arrests were made by the police but the number of arrests is yet to be confirmed.
Similarly, the riders also protested in Ikorodu and Ejigbo areas of the state this morning over the ban on them by government. In Ejigbo, the riders blocked the road, causing traffic jam in the area while they carried leaves and chanted anti-government songs. They rejected the ban placed on them from plying 475 roads in Lagos, saying it would cripple their businesses.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, confirmed the protest, saying the police moved in on time to quell the protest.
Total war on Okada
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has declared a total war on commercial motorcycle riders plying the 475 prohibited routes in the Lagos metropolis.
Speaking at a forum to enlighten military officials in Lagos, the State governor, Babatunde Fashola solicited the assistance of the army in the implementation of the new traffic law.
“The military gave us this democracy, so there must be a continuing partnership to keep it going,” Mr Fashola said.
The governor however insisted that such partnership would happen “only where the rule of law prevails.”
He said: “About the Okada, for me, I understand the economics of the okada. But it also has the social effects. Many fathers have lost their children; many husbands have lost their wives; many children have lost both parents.
“All we are saying is don’t go on the highways. First because we must even understand, Okadas and vehicles are automobiles; they are not toys; they are mechanical devices and therefore for you to even use them you must go and train. That’s why you go to driving school to go and learn; then they certify you.
“Somebody just pulls okada from any parts of the country he likes, gets onto a truck, he’s going to Lagos and then you entrust your life to that man? As if that was not bad enough, he drives against traffic?