Beneficiaries may face revocation, prosecution
The Lagos State Government has wrapped up the constitution of a panel of inquiry to investigate the wrongful sale of government assets and properties worth billions of naira.
A top official exclusively revealed the state government’s resolve to THISDAY yesterday, citing some unresolved questions, which he said, made the investigation into the sale of the prime assets compelling and imperative.
The official, who spoke privately due to the sensitivity of the issue, said the state government decided to investigate the sale of the affected assets because they were sold below market value.
At the private session, the official lamented the colossal amount of funds running into billions of naira, which he said the state government lost in revenue to the unacceptable process by which the sales were conducted.
He said the affected assets “are located in high-profile areas, where decision-makers, captains of industries, top government functionaries and political actors among others often crave to build their homes or set up their offices.”
He named the high-profile areas to include Ikeja GRA, Magodo, Ikoyi, Lekki and other prime locations, where government assets were sold to some very important persons (VIPs) below the market value.
He explained that the assets were disposed at abysmal (or give-away) prices and obviously against public interest, which he said, stoked the interest of the present administration to investigate and review the process by which the assets were sold.
Aside the sale of the affected assets below the market value, the official said the government assets, which were sold between 2006 and 2016 did not follow due process and standard procedure of sale.
He explained what eventually culminated in the resolve of the state government to investigate the sale of its assets in the last decade, lamenting that some of these assets “were then sold as low as N20 million.”
The official lamented that the government and people of Lagos State “have been short-changed considering the abysmal prices the assets were sold. For example we have a situation whereby properties situated in Ikeja GRA was sold as low as N20 million and N30 million in few cases.
“Generally, we have a situation where government properties in prime locations were sold between N20 million and N70 million.
The assets were abysmally under-valued. Besides, the assets were sold below the actual market value, hence the need for a panel of inquiry.
The official added that no serious government “will allow such sales against public interest to stand. I do not think these sales can stand. That is why the state government has decided to set up a Panel of inquiry to look into the sale of these go assets.”
The official said the list of over 100 properties; the names of their buyers and the locations of the assets have already been compiled. The panel of inquiry that has been working quietly is reported to be headed by a high-ranking cabinet member is expected to submit its report before the end of November this year.
He said the panel’s terms of reference “are to investigate the sale of government assets between 2006 and 2016; review the terms of sale of the assets in questions; determine if the state government received fair market value for any sale.”
The source added that the state government “will ask those that purchased the properties at undervalued prices to pay the difference or face immediate revocation of the sales and prosecution were appropriate.”