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Court Summons Speaker, Others Over Ambode’s Probe

The battle between the Lagos State House of Assembly and former Governor Akinwumi Ambode has shifted the court.


Instead of Wednesday’s drilling session on the floor of the House, both parties will appear before Justice Y.Y. Adesanya.

Mr. Ambode has sued Speaker Mudashiru Obasa and members of the panel raised by the House to probe some of his activities in office.

Accused of mismanaging resources and failure to get legislative approval for some of his projects, the lawmakers summoned the former governor to appear the House panel today.
Ambode told an Ikeja Court on Tuesday that the 820 buses procured by his administration got budgetary approval from the House of Assembly.

He said the purchase was captured in the state’s 2018 Appropriation Law as a Capital Expenditure under the heading ‘LAGBUS Public Transport Infrastructure (MEPB); Part financing of 820 buses’.
According to him, 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.

Ambode made the claims in a motion ex-parte moved by his counsel, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN).
He prayed the court to, among others, halt the planned probe of the buses procurement by the lawmakers.
Granting his prayers, Justice Adesanya summoned the Speaker, House Clerk, Mr. A.A Sanni; Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee set up by the House to probe the procurement, Fatai Mojeed and members of the Committee.

The others to appear are: Gbolahan Yishawu, A.A Yusuff, Yinka Ogundimu, Mojisola Lasbat Meranda, M.L Makinde, Kehinde Joseph, T.A Adewale and O.S Afinni. They are to appear before the Judge today.
Justice Adesanya also ordered the originating processes and all the accompanying processes filed by the claimant (Ambode) to be served on the defendants and subsequently fixed today for hearing of the motion for interlocutory injunction.
In his suit, the former governor is contesting the constitutionality of the probe.

According to him, the buses 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.

He alleged that some of the lawmakers breached his “constitutional rights to fair hearing” on August 27, 2019, when, during proceedings of the Assembly, they criticised and accused him of purchasing the buses without budgetary approval and that the procurement was a waste of public funds.

According to him, the lawmakers who raised the accusations also constituted themselves as the probe panel.
He denied allegations made on October 10 that the House extended an invitation to him to appear before the Committee but that he failed to honour it.

The former governor also averred that no former Commissioner who served in his government indicted him when they appeared before the House on October 15, 2019.

Ambode also claimed that the “entire members of the House” had already adjudged him as having committed wastage of public fund by the procurement of the buses.

He is seeking several reliefs including a declaration that “sections 8 and 9 of the Appropriation Law of Lagos State 2018 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 … unconstitutional.”

Ambode is also seeking a declaration that the lawmakers have no power to indict him.
 
In a publicized invite entitled: “Notice of summons: Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (the former Governor of Lagos State), is signed by the Clerk of the House, Mr. A. A.  Sanni, the Assembly reminded Ambode of the importance of appearing before the Committee to shed light on alleged infractions raised by the Assembly.

The notice said: “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 Wednesday, 30th October, 2019 at the Lateef Jakande Auditorium, Assembly Complex, Alausa, Ikeja by 1.00 p.m.”
He 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

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