Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Ekiti State Government has written to the Senate, rejecting its move to probe the bail out funds it received along with some states from the federal government and described the planned probe as unconstitutional.
The government in a letter written by its Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Owoseni Ajayi, in response to a letter dated November 11, 2016, by the Chairman, Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration, Senator Abdullahi Gumel, through the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, viewed the move by the committee as a trespass. Whereas the committee had in his letter with the titled: ‘Oversight Assignment on Bailout Funds Granted to Ekiti State,’ said it wanted to carry out an oversight investigation into how the state utilised the bailout funds, Ajayi said such investigation would amount to illegality because it is beyond the purview of the National Assembly.
“We respectfully wish to observe that we are constrained as a state government, bound by the principles of federalism, and the rule of law, to accede to your proposal to exercise oversight powers over the disbursement of the bailout fund granted to Ekiti State by the federal government because it is legally and constitutionally outside the powers of the Senate of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.
He added that the Senate’s plan would be in violation of Sections 121,122,123, 124, 125 and 128 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), insisting that the Constitution vests the powers of oversight function on state’s finances exclusively in State Houses of Assembly.
“Section 125 (5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides for the submission of financial statements and annual accounts of a state to the House of Assembly of the state and the House shall cause the report to be considered by a committee of the House responsible for public accounts
“In the same vein, Section 128 of the 1999 Constitution specifically confers on the State House of Assembly the powers to conduct investigations into the accounts of the state government
“In the light of the above, we respectfully opine that your request for a meeting with certain officials of the Ekiti State and the preparation of reports detailing all grants as received by the state from the federal government and the application of such funds, for the consideration of your committee, is a usurpation of the constitutionally vested powers of the Ekiti State House of Assembly as currently constituted under the able leadership of the Speaker, Hon. Kola Oluwawole
“Consequently, we have no other choice in the circumstance than to decline to entertain the proposed inquiry by your committee into the disbursement of bailout funds granted to Ekiti State for the above stated reasons,” the letter stated.