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[820 buses] Again! Ambode, ex-commissioners snub fresh invitation by Lagos assembly

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Immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Tuesday failed again to appear before the State House of Assembly Ad-hoc Committee probing the activities of the last administration, especially the purchase of the 820 buses for its mass transit programme.

The 16-man committee is chaired by Hon. Fatai Mojeed.

Also absent was the immediate past commissioner for finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade, and his special duties counterpart, Oladejo Seye.

They both wrote the committee to be excused because they were not in the country.

The next option, according to the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, when the matter came up at the plenary yesterday, is to invite Ambode publicly through newspaper publications.

He, however, said if the former governor still failed to appear, then the House would be left with no other option than to compel him to do so by issuing a warrant of arrest on him.

A former commissioner for economic planning and budget, Mr. Olusegun Banjo, revealed that the purchase of the 820 buses by Ambode “was not routed through my ministry.”

Banjo, who stated that he became commissioner in February 2018, said he did follow the system he met on ground, which, according to him, was responsible for shady transactions on the buses that were procured.

When the Accountant-General of the State, Mrs. Shukrat Umar, was asked if the budget for the purchase of the buses was approved by the State Executive Council, she said: “The State Treasury Office acted on Exco’s approval. The buses were in line with Exco’s approval. I would not know whether the Paris Refund Club was discussed or not.”

The Imota rice mill,  Light-Up Lagos project and procurement of LASEMA Rapid Response equipment and engagement of the consultants, were all done under shady circumstances as revealed by the heads of the MDA’s, who were questioned by the committee members.

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All the projects, including the Oshodi Interchange and others, it was also discovered, were never captured in the state’s budget as confirmed by the former commissioners for agriculture and energy, Toyin Suarau and Wale Oluwo, respectively.

But Ambode defied laid down constitutional provisions and the House. He went ahead to award contracts without open bidding and also purchased equipment, as well, the committee members noted.

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