Nigeria: Lagos Assembly Threatens to Issue Warrant for Ambode's Arrest

11 October 2019

The Lagos State House of Assembly Thursday threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, and four ex-commissioners.

This decision followed two preliminary reports presented by two committees set up to investigate the 820 buses purchased by the administration of Ambode.

The former commissioners threatened with arrest warrant are Kazeem Adeniji (AG); Olusegun Banjo (Budget); Akinyemi Ashade (Finance); and Wale Oluwo (Energy and Mineral Resources).

Presenting the preliminary report of a nine-man ad hoc committee that probed the buses purchased by the former governor, the Chairman of the committee, Fatai Mojeed, said it was discovered that due process was not followed in the purchase of the buses.

Mojeed added that the former governor used the refund of the Paris Club 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. 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 said.

He said the Accountant-General of the state told the committee that she depended on the approval of Ambode for the purchase of the buses and that no payment voucher was made available to the committee.

The lawmaker added that they also demanded to have the budget instrument used for the purchase, but that there was no budgetary provision.

"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," he added.

On his part, the Chairman ad hoc on mid-year budget review, Gbolahan Yishawu, alleged that the four 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.

While reacting to the matter, some members of the assembly suggested that since the ex-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.

A member representing Alimosho Constituency 1, Bisi Yusuf, told his colleagues that the assembly 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, the member representing Badagry Constituency 1, Ibrahim Layode, urged his colleagues to tread with caution.

He advised that the individuals should be invited through newspaper advertisement, stating that the ex-offcials are likely to come across the publications.

The Speaker of the assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, said the issue was beyond issue of arrest warrant, "because when this house invite people and they refused to show up, it's like setting a bad precedence for others coming behind.

"The clerk should write them including the ex-Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and if they refused, we will do newspaper publications and after that we will issue a warrant of arrest."

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