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Lagos Assembly summons Ambode, may begin impeachment process

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The Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday summoned the state Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode to appear before it within one week over the 2019 budget, failure to comply may warrant an impeachment motion to be moved.

Recall that Governor Ambode had sent the 2019 budget to the House in December against the tradition of laying the budget before the House.

The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa told the lawmakers that it was important to give the Governor a fair hearing over the issue involving the Governor and the 2019 Budget.

Obasa stated that there has been violation of the constitution and infractions on the part of the Governor.

“The Attorney General, Finance Commissioner and Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning that ought to have advised the Governor did not do so.

“The most important thing is that we should let the people know that a budget that was yet to be approved was being spent, which was why we could not attend to the Governor on the budget on Monday 21, January. We must give them a fair hearing to come and explain what happened.

“The point has been made that there must be something before the House before you can commence expenditure. We want to call on the Governor to come within a week to explain himself.

“We can start gathering signatures for impeachment. We can exercise patience and wait till another time,” he said.

The lawmakers had reacted to a report presented by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni as the Chairman of the Committee set up to look into the issues surrounding the 2019 budget during a parliamentary meeting of the lawmakers.

Members of the Committee included Hon. Moshood Oshun, Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts (State), Hon. Moshood Oshun, Chairman, House Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu, Chairman, House Committee on the Environment, Hon. Dayo Saka-Fafunmi and the Chairman, House Committee on Works and Infrastructure, Hon. Abiodun Tobun.

Eshinlokun revealed that the committee met with relevant commissioners and heads of agencies.

The Deputy Speaker stated that the committee met with the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Hon. Segun Banjo, who said that no money had been spent for the year.

He said that the Accountant General told the committee that warrant had been issued that they could spend up to 25% of the preceding budget before the approval of that of the new year.He said that they would have to make a recourse to the House if they wanted to spend up to N200 Million.

“We pointed out that the Governor ought to lay the budget of the New Year before December 31st, but that so far the budget was yet to be laid, which was on January 23, 2019.

“We asked them to bring out the law that allows them to spend up to 20% of the budget of the preceding year. They could not bring out such law and we said what they did was wrong.

“We discovered that people have started receiving alerts and this has a grave implication for the executive.

“It is our finding that for smooth running of government, there must be a strict adherent to the constitution and it must not be violated. We decided to bring the report before the lawmakers for us to take action,” he said.

In his comment, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu revealed that the Committee on Budget discovered during budget appropriation review that there were some specific expenditure in the budgets that ought to have been approved by the House over which funds were expended.

Yishawu stated that these were misnomers, and that they noticed variation in the expenditure and budget approved.

“We had issues of virement and monies being spent without approval. We had cases of items that were not budgeted for being carried out, it shows the executive rewrite the budget at will.Yishawu argued that, “the Constitution states that the State House of Assembly must approve all expenditures.”

According to him, things are shutting down, things are being slowed down by the government.He said that it was as if the executive was tired and that the people were complaining.”It is as if nothing is happening in the state now. Breach of the constitution and gross misconduct are being committed here, and the punishment is clear.

“We should begin an impeachment process if need be if the executive does not retrace their steps,” he said.This was corroborated by Hon. Tunde Braimoh, who said that the manner of revelation was of serious concern.

He stated that they all swore to uphold the tenets of the constitution of Nigeria.He added that Sections 120 and 121 explained the roles of each arm of government when it comes to financial expenditure.

“If we continue like this, it means we are moving on the ebb of destruction. The issue of gross misconduct should be closely looked into and necessary sanctions applied,” he said.

This was supported by Hon. Bisi Yusuf, who pointed out that the Governor is an accountant, and that he was an Acting Auditor General in 2001 and was confirmed in 2005.

“With his level of exposure, he cannot claim ignorance. He is being surrounded by intellectuals, so they ought to have advised him including the Deputy Governor and the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning.

“The Attorney General ought to have been removed for quoting a law that does not exist.

“All those, who are given the Governor bad advice should be removed. “In the whole of Lagos, things have shut down. This is an offence that is not pardonable. I want to say this is an impeachable offence for the Governor and the commissioners,” he said.

Hon. Rotimi Olowo

Rewriting of the Budget is an impeachable offence. The Government has been shut down and our roads are in a sorry state. There must be continuity of projects in the budget and this is not followed. Borrowing without informing the house is impeachable. IPP is being owed. If the Governor is tired, he should resign.

Hon. Moshood Oshun:

When you apply for a job, and you are given, if you are tired, you can leave. If the Governor is tired, he should go. The budget is a law, when we pass a budget, they rewrite their own. What they say is that they are above the law. If you go to Alausa today, all the MDAs are shut down. All their files are with the Governor and he did not work on them.

Hon. Richard Kasunmu:

This is a non-compliance with the rule of law. The state is about to be totally shut down, so we should checkmate the situation. If the Governor is tired, he should throw in the towel. We cannot keep on standstill because some people are tired.

Hon. Rasheed Makinde:

Three years down the lane, the executive cannot tell the people of Lagos that they don’t know what they are doing. It is obvious that the Governor is tired, so they should all go. They even made a mistake in the letter they wrote to the House. Lagos State used to present it’s budget before others even before the Federal Government. They ought to work based on the budget or they come for reordering. All government agencies have been rendered useless, civil servants are sleeping in their offices. The State House of Assembly must approve the budget. We must pass a vote of no confidence on the Attorney General, Commissioners for Budget, Finance, the Governor and the Deputy Governor.

Hon. Yinka Ogundimu

The Governor has always been disobeying our motions. They refused to follow our motions on the environment, which is why everywhere is dirty. If you look at the various projects not provided for in the budget that are being done, then it is breach of the constitution. The people concerned should resign before we invoke the aspect of the constitution that gives us power to remove them from office. We should make it clear that there have been warnings from us.

Hon. Sola Giwa

This is a matter of constitutionality and it is about the law. We all swore to uphold the law. If you breach the law, there is a consequence and the best is for the House to begin an impeachment process.

Hon. Victor Akande

There is no need for virement according to the constitution. I don’t think there is any budget before the House. The constitution states that the budget must be laid and it is a gross misconduct. So, we should do the needful.

Hon. Fatai Mojeed.

We received the money from Paris Fund and other funds, the executive did not take permission before they spent the money.

Hon. Jude Idimogu

The government is not moving forward. Our party is the APC and we are doing well. The government is not putting us in the light and we have the opposition that are watching us. No budget has been laid before the House. The key members such as Attorney General, Commissioners For Finance and Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning. The needful is impeachment.

Hon. Noheem Raheem

I support the fact that they should resign if they are tired.

Hon. Fatai Oluwa

This is a deliberate attempt by the Governor not to bring the budget before the House. He is surrounded by erudite lawyers that ought to have advised him. Public Works, LAWMA, IPP are more working. If it would be necessary to sign and send him out of office it would be okay.

Hon. Oladele Adekanye

It is clear that there are infractions and impeachable offence committed. The defences of the commissioners are not tenable.

Hon. Sabur Olayiwola

There have been abuse of the constitution and disobedient to the constitution. Spending without making a recourse to the assembly is an impeachable offence. The best thing is to show him that we are representing our people and that we are not here for fun. The beat thing is to let them know that we mean business. The Permanent Secretary/Accountant General that is talking about 25% spending should be brought to book.

Hon. Akeem Shokunle

The financial misconduct of the Governor is obvious and we should begin an impeachment process.

Hon. Mosunmola Sangodara

The situation is an unfortunate one. Section 121 of the Constitution states the the appropriation bill should be laid before the House and this has not been done. It is an abuse of office and an undued influence by the Governor. We can start an impeachment process and pass a vote of no confidence on some of the members of the executive.

Hon. Funmilayo Tejuosho

We are the voice of the people of Lagos State and we perform oversight functions to ensure that the Government do the best for the people. Accountability is not being done here. Section 121 made it clear that the appropriation bill should be laid before the house. Section 122 states that if that has been done, you can now spend 25% of the budget estimate for a period of six months. We need to forward the infractions to the Governor. The tax payers should know what their money is being spent on.

Hon. Setonji David

The infractions are too grave, there is a problem and we need to do what is right. The government must be held responsible for their actions.

Hon. Akeem Bello:

The Governor and his Deputy should tender their resignation letter.

Hon. Dayo Saka-Fafunmi:

I am sad over the revelations by what the Deputy Speaker reads and during out interactions with the executive. The business of governance is not based on sentiments, it ia based on law. Section 120 of the Constitution that talks about the public fund is very important. Public fund does not belong to any of us, it belongs to the people of Lagos State. Section 120 subsection 2 States that no money should be withdrawn from the accounts of the states unless it is approved by the House. All the violations amount to gross misconduct. Section 188 subsection defines gross misconduct. We strongly believe that essential services that ought to be met are missing in the state. I am in line with the statement and decisions of the members that if the executive members are not ready for governance, they should resign or should be impeached.

Hon. Mojisola Miranda:

The constitution is clear that there is punishment for any offence.

Hon. Dayo Famakinwa

I want to support my colleagues that the offences are impeachable and we should activate the process immediately.

Hon. Saka Solaja

A budget is financial instrument that analyses and interprets the financial expenditure. Since 1999, Lagos State has always been presenting its budget as at when due, but that has not been done. The financial regulations and the constitution have been breached. We should start a process of impeachment immediately.

Hon. Folajinmi Mohammed

There is a vagrant abuse of the constitution, which is an impeachable offence.

Hon. Lanre OgunyemI

It is an issue of flagrant disobedient to the constitution. A review of a previous year’s budget is a precursor to the approval of the new budget. A review of the 2018 budget shows poor performance. MDAs complained of inability to access their funds. All these infractions should be communicated to the Governor for his reaction and if he fails to do so, the House can begin a process of impeachment.

Hon. Omotayo Oduntan

Today is a sad day. The executive just moved money from one ministry to another without recourse to the Assembly. When all these happen, it shows a total disregard to the budget being passed by the House. We should get across to the Governor to explain himself or else we should begin an impeachment proces

Hon. Sanai Agunbiade

There are three arms of government of which the executive is one. Our government is still running and not shut down. What we want to do is to ensure that the infractions from one arm of government does not affect another. It is clear that the budget has not been presented before the House. My colleagues have addressed all the issues. We should let the public know that we do not have the budget before the House.

Three suggestions we made, that the Commissioners, who were approved by the House and are working with the Governor should have vote of no confidence passed on them. They have failed in their responsibilities.

The next is for the Governor to resign or we should begin an impeachment process against the Governor. We can communicate to him to reign or failure to do that is for us to start collecting signatures of lawmakers so that we can be seeing to have done our job

Hon. Rotimi Abiru

I want to adopt what has been done without wasting much time. There have been some infractions on the part of the Governor and the position of the law is clear.

Hon. Wahab Jimoh

I saw this coming like an ocean surge. The Attorney General wrote the House to withdraw the private member bills before the House. O had been noticing that there would be crisis. The report I saw with the Deputy Speaker shows that the 2019 is being implemented.

Adjourned to Monday 4th February at noon.

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