Ambode Vs Lagos Assembly: Embattled Ex-governor Challenges Lawmakers Over 820 Buses Probe



Akinwunmi Ambode, immediate past governor of Lagos State has dragged
the Lagos State House of Assembly to court over a probe of the
procurement of 820 buses by his administration.

Ambode urged the Lagos High Court in Ikeja to stop the probe, accusing
the state’s lawmakers of deliberate misrepresentation of facts.

Justice Y.A. Adesanya, therefore, summoned Mudashiru Obasa, Lagos
State House of Assembly’s Speaker, to appear before it.

A statement by Itesiwaju Eko Foundation stated that Ambode instituted
a suit against the assembly to contest the constitutionality of the
probe, which were procured based on budgetary approval as part of the
state’s bus reform project.

“In an order dated 29 October 2019 issued by Justice Y.A. Adesanya
after hearing a motion ex-parte moved by Ambode’s lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo
(SAN), other defendants ordered to appear before the court at 9 am on
Wednesday, October 30, are 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. They are Gbolahan Yishawu,
A.A Yusuff, Yinka Ogundimu, Mojisola Lasbat Meranda, M.L Makinde,
Kehinde Joseph, T.A Adewale, and O.S Afinni.

“Justice Adesanya ordered the originating processes and all the
accompanying processes filed by the claimant (Ambode) to be served on
the defendants and subsequently fixed Wednesday, October 30, 2019, for
a hearing of a motion for an interlocutory injunction,” it said.

The foundation added, “According to his statement of claim before the
court, Ambode said contrary to deliberate misrepresentation of facts
by the lawmakers, the procurement of the 820 buses was well captured
in the 2018 Appropriation Law which was duly approved by the House.

“In Section 1 of the bill, the first defendant (House of Assembly)
authorized the total budget for the year 2018 to be N1,046,121,181,680
comprising N347,038,938,872 only and N699,082,242,808 only as the
recurrent and capital expenditures, respectively.

“Part of the items authorized by the bill under capital expenditure
was: ‘LAGBUS Public Transport Infrastructure (MEPB); Part financing of
820 buses’ which was item 8 under schedule 1- Part C of the bill.

“He added that having prescribed the manner of withdrawal of funds in
sections 3 and 4 of the 2018 Appropriation Law, 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.

“Highlighting the specific breach of his constitutional rights to fair
hearing by the house, the former governor said on August 27, 2019
during proceedings of the Assembly, some lawmakers thoroughly vilified
and disparaged him as having purchased the buses without budgetary
approval and that the procurement was a waste of public funds, while
at the end of the proceedings, the house resolved to constitute an ad
hoc committee to probe the procurement.”

According to the statement, Ambode said it was surprising that the
lawmakers who contributed actively in vilifying, disparaging and
denigrating him constituted the bulk of the members of that committee,
which was a clear derogation of his right to a fair hearing.

Ambode added that in continuation of deliberate misrepresentation of
facts of the issue, the house falsely claimed that an invitation was
extended to him to appear before the committee but that he failed to
honour it.

The Eko group’s statement said further, “On Thursday 10 October, 2019,
the fourth and fifth defendants (Mojeed and Yishawu) who are chairman
and member of the committee respectively set up by the first defendant
pursuant to the provisions of Section 129 of the Constitution again
raised on the floor of the House an allegation that the claimant
(Ambode) was invited to appear before the committee but that he failed
to do so; whereupon the second defendant (speaker) ruled that a
warrant of arrest would be issued against the claimant if he refuses
to appear before the committee.

“The claimant states that no letter of invitation was delivered to him
before the fourth and fifth defendants made the false allegation
against the claimant which was widely reported by various national
newspapers in the country.”

Ambode averred, “Further to the foregoing paragraphs, the first
defendant had also invited some of the former commissioners who served
under my government to appear before the first defendant on Tuesday 15
October 2019. These included former commissioners for energy,
agriculture, and economic planning and budget, respectively amongst
others.

“After the proceedings of the committee on 15 October 2019, the first
defendant represented to the public that the former commissioners that
appeared before it had indicted me in their testimonies. The
information was widely published by national newspapers on Wednesday
16 October 2019.

“Contrary to the information made to the public by the first
defendant, the said former commissioners for energy and economic
planning and budget who were represented by the first defendant to
have indicted me, made public statements on Thursday 17 October 2019
denying that they ever indicted me in their testimonies before the
committee. The denials were widely published by online newspapers on
Thursday 17 October 2019 and national newspapers on Friday 18 October
2019.

“The first defendant falsely represented to the public that the said
commissioners indicted me in their testimonies before the committee so
as to justify my indictment by the 1st defendant which indictment
members of the first defendant had hitherto threatened to carry out.”

He added that the house committee and other lawmakers adjudged him to
have wasted public funds by procuring the buses and that the purchase
was done without the state’s backing.

The Lagos former governor said it was obvious that the lawmakers were
biased against him having regard to their pronouncements on the floor
of the house by reason of which he believes that his right to fair
hearing as guaranteed by the constitution had been seriously
compromised by the defendants.

Ambode, therefore, sought among others, the court’s declaration that
the power of the house to pass a resolution under section 128(1) of
the constitution to cause an inquiry into his conduct as governor is
subject to the right to fair hearing as guaranteed by section 36(1).

He also asked for a declaration that the resolution of the house
setting up a nine-man committee comprising the fourth to twelfth
defendants to investigate all transactions in respect of the 820 buses
said by the defendants to have been procured by him derogates from his
right as guaranteed by section 36(1) of the constitution and therefore
unconstitutional, null and void.

The document added, “A declaration that having regard to the
provisions of sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Appropriation Law of Lagos
State 2018, sections 8 and 9 of the Law 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 not in
accord with any provision of the Constitution and accordingly is
unconstitutional, null and void.

“A declaration that it is not lawful for the defendants to represent
or continue to represent to the public that the claimant, Akinwunmi
Ambode, procured 820 buses in breach of budgetary approval.

“A declaration that the powers of the first defendant under sections
103, 128 and 129 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria, 1999 as amended does not include power to indict the Claimant
as contemplated by sections 66(1)(h), 137(1)i and 182(1)i of the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.

“An injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their
servants, agents and or representatives from compelling the claimant,
in any manner whatsoever, to appear before the defendants pursuant to
the resolution passed by the defendants on 27 August 2019 or any other
resolution passed in respect of the subject matter of this Suit.

“An injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their
servants, agents and or representatives from representing or continue
to represent to the Public that the claimant, Akinwunmi Ambode,
procured 820 buses in breach of budgetary approval.”

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