Lagos Assembly Officially Summons Ambode

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Akinwunmi Ambode

: Seeks clarification on alleged infractions

Tobi Soniyi

The Lagos State House of Assembly has officially invited the state’s immediate past governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode to appear on Wednesday before an ad-hoc committee investigating his administration.

During Ambode’s appearance, the assembly said it would make inquiry on five-point infractions including alleged unauthorised discounting of promissory note and misappropriation of special expenditure funds, among others.

It invited the former governor through public notice yesterday, asking him to appear before the committee at 1:00 p.m. to say all he knows about some financial transactions that took place under his administration.

The Speaker of the assembly, Hon. Mudashiru Obada had constituted a 16-member ad-hoc committee under the chairmanship of Hon. Fatai Mojeed (Ibeju-Lekki I) to probe the procurement of 820 high occupancy vehicles, bought by the Ambode administration under its Bus Reform Initiative (BRI).

Apart from the bus procurement probe, the speaker had also mandated the ad-hoc committee to investigate other iconic projects – Imota Rice Mill, Oshodi Transport Exchange and LED-UK Streetlight project, among others –Ambode executed in the second half of his administration

The speaker had equally claimed that the Ambode administration did not seek the approval of the assembly for the procurement of the 820 vehicles and asked the committee to invite the former governor and some members of his cabinet that were involved to state their roles in the purchase.

But the assembly eventually invited Ambode yesterday in the publicised public notice titled, “Notice of summons: Mr Akinwunmi Ambode (the former Governor of Lagos State), was signed by the Clerk of the House, Mr. A. A. Sanni.

In the notice, the former governor was reminded of the importance of appearing before the committee to shed light on five-point infractions raised by the assembly.

The notice states: “The Lagos State House of Assembly, pursuant to Section 129 (1)(c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) hereby summons His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, the former Governor of Lagos State (May, 2015 – May, 2019) to appear before the committee of the House on October 30 at the Lateef Jakande Auditorium, Assembly Complex, Alausa, Ikeja by 1.00 p.m.”

If he appears on Wednesday, the former governor will be asked “to clarify the following: unauthorised discounting of promissory note; purchase of 820 buses by your administration without due authorisation; misappropriation of special expenditure funds; improper implementation of the appropriation law; and non-adherence to the financial regulations of the state.”

The notice urged the former governor to provide the committee with documents to justify that the transactions did not violate constitutional provisions.

It reads: “You are kindly requested to furnish the Committee with fifteen (15) copies each of all relevant document(s) relating to the issues raised through the Office of the Clerk of the House on or before Tuesday, 29th October, 2019.

“It is pertinent to state that your presence at the proposed meeting would give you the opportunity to shed light on issues that are material to the investigation.”

However, contrary to its claim that Ambode procured 820 buses without legislative approval, the House of Assembly appropriated N24 billion for the bus project, the state’s 2018 appropriation law has revealed.

The assembly, however, included a special clause in the 2018 appropriation law, which requested the executive to seek its approval or clearance for every capital expenditure above N200 million, a clause that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria did not capture.

The details of the legislative approval for the bus procurement were contained in the state’s 2018 Appropriation Law, which were jointly signed by Ambode, the state’s immediate past governor and the Clerk of the House of Assembly, Mr. Azeez A. Sanni.

As shown in the 2018 appropriation law, the assembly approved N24 billion for the bus procurement project and proposals for some the capital expenditures it directed the ad-hoc committee to investigate.

Under the appropriation law, the assembly approved N6 billion for Imota Rice Mill with a production capacity of 32,000 tonnes per hour; N9.722 billion for Oshodi Transport Exchange; N1.63 billion for LED-UK streetlight projects and N12.67 billion for Adiyan Water Project (new Water Works).

The assembly, also, appropriated N2 billion for Eko Project Implementation, N500 million for rice collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi, N2 billion for regional roads, N8.56 billion for waste management sinking fund, N10 billion for embedded power (SBLC) commitment.

Alongside its approval for the bus procurement project, the assembly allocated N10 billion for embedded power (upgrade of distribution infrastructure) and N14.592 billion for smart-city project, all of which were appropriated for and approved under the state’s 2018 appropriation regime.

Under Schedule 1 – Part C, however, the assembly inserted a provision, which required the executive arm to seek its subsequent approval or clearance for all capital expenditures about N200 million after the enactment of the appropriation law.

Under the schedule, the assembly classified all capital expenditures above N200 million as special expenditure requiring clearance before the projects can be executed, a provision which former commissioner claimed, violated the power of the executive arm to spend and execute projects appropriated for without legislative interference under the 1999 constitution.