Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, has subtly admitted to financial misappropriation under his leadership, explaining how funds were spent in the Assembly when he appeared before a panel on Saturday.
Obasa had set up a sham investigative panel to probe him of allegations of mismanaging public funds and awarding contracts to himself.
At the panel hearing on Saturday, Obasa explained that the monies approved by him followed due process.
In his explanations, Obasa said the documents exposing his activities were revealed to SaharaReporters by his enemies as he claimed NI.1m was used to print invitation cards.
It was also reported that about N2.4bn was spent within 11 months to procure 80 cars for the 40 members of the Lagos State House of Assembly.
A contract was awarded for 40 cars to be purchased for the lawmakers and less than a year after, another contract was awarded for the purchase of cars for the Assembly members in December and January, a report by The Guardian of March 1, 12020 revealed.
In a series of reports, SaharaReporters had exposed how Obasa fraudulently approved millions of naira for himself through the award of contracts to companies owned by him.
Other reports also revealed how he approved N17m monthly to maintain his personal residence and guest house, and N53m from the state coffers to travel with his mistress to the United States of America.
It was also revealed that 19 lawmakers led by Obasa went for a women leadership programme and received N80m as estacode after returning from the programme.
Defending himself on Saturday before the sham panel he set up, Obasa said, “We gave N4m to each of the participants for air ticket, hotels, feedings and local travel.
“Air ticket to Dubai alone is about N2m. Some of these allegations were raised for a crusade to get the Speaker out of office.
“The House of Assembly is above common standard of excellence and we have to train people, and this comes with a cost. Learning is not cheap and I have never collected N80m for estacode at a go before.
“That was why the House decided to buy the buses, the buses were there for everybody to see with documents to defend the purchases.
“We were invited by the Consular General for a programme in the United States. Later, the programme was postponed, but I had gone ahead.
“I had to return home and I told others not to bother to come until the new date.
“They only remove documents and fly them around to please themselves. All our payments go through certain procedures.
“The expenditure had been there before I became the Speaker. There was no way I could have spent such amount on cleaning my guest house.
“On the issue of awarding contracts to companies belonging to me, they should come and show evidence of where I awarded contracts to myself.
“There was no way I could have tricked Ambode to release such money. We had a meeting of the Conference of Speakers, who came with three members each and we had sub-committees who were given N2m each.
“We paid for the tickets of each speaker, we paid for their hotel accommodation, feeding and souvenirs. We also provided local transportation for them.
“All these allegations are deliberate actions of my enemies to achieve their aim that they could not achieve in the House to remove me as Speaker, which was why they came up with such reports.”
Speaking on a document revealing how he ordered N258m to be released for the printing of invitation cards for the inauguration of the 9th Assembly, he said, “It is not possible to spend N258m to print invitation cards. We are not involved in such a frivolous expenditure.”
Clerk of the House, Mr Azeez Sanni, also defended the estacode for the trip to the United States, saying that it followed standard procedure.
Sanni said the programme was budgeted for under conferences and seminars.
He added that the House has taken steps to conceal the activities in the State Assembly especially financial activities.
Speaking further on other allegations against him, Obasa said, “We bought land cruisers for principal officers of the House. The cars we bought for them are always higher than those of other members and we followed due process in the purchase.
“We went through the Public Procurement Agency and others and the vehicles were distributed appropriately.
“It was agreed at the parliamentary meetings on about four occasions and the Clerk of the House, Mr Azeez Sanni, is the Secretary.
“Also, it is not true that my wife collects N10m monthly from the House. Anyone who says she does should come with proof and evidence.
“My approval limit as Speaker is N100m and anything above that would have to be approved by the Fund Management Committee.”
Despite several petitions to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission by anti-corruption groups, the agency is yet to initiate the process of investigating the allegations against Obasa and prosecute him if found culpable.