By OKUNADE ADEKUNLE
Lagos State House of Assembly has adjourned the probing of the immediate past governor of the state, Mr Akinwummi Ambode, till further notice, following this morning ruling by the State’s High Court in Ikeja, ordering the probe panel to halt proceedings.
Addressing newsmen after the adjournment by the probe committee today (Wednesday) at the Assembly Complex, Hon. Fatai Mojeed who heads the panel, stated that the matter had been adjourned indefinitely as the panel got court summon to stay action on the matter and that they had to respect the ruling of the court.
Mojeed added “We are lawmakers we are not law breakers, which was why we had to adjourn the matter indefinitely. The people of Lagos should be expecting more from us,”
Also speaking, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu said that the House was not trying to witch hunt anybody or put anybody on the spot for any reason.
Yishawu stressed that the Assembly was not being pushed by any individual on the matter, while recalling that the issue dated back to 2017, when it was included in the appropriation law but was not approved by the House.
However, while protesting his lockout by the probe panel during the meeting, Mr. Olaniran Obele from the chambers of Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), the counsel of former governor Akinwunmi Ambode, querying his denial of access into the committee meeting.
Obele stated that they were at the Assembly to hand over the court ruling to the Chairman of the Committee and the Speaker of the House, but that the ruling was not accepted and that they were prevented from witnessing the committee meeting.
“The court said that nothing should be done about the matter and we tried to serve notices to the Chairman of the Committee and the Speaker of the House, but they refused to accept it from us.
“We were around, while the preliminary of the proceeding was on, but we were not allowed in. We didn’t come here to submit court proceedings alone, but we came to represent the former governor. If they didn’t take any step, we don’t have problem with that, but it would be very sad if they took any action,” he said.
Early this morning, Lagos High Court, Ikeja, had ordered the State’s House of Assembly to stop the probing of Ambode, pending the determination of the case filed by him.
The order came on the day when Ambode was expected to appear before the probe panel set up by the House of Assembly to investigate the purchase of 820 mass transit Buses at the rate of N45bn during his administration.
The court, however, adjourned the matter brought before it by the former governor, against the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt (Hon) Mudashiru Obasa, the Clerk, Mr Azeez Sanni and the probe panel, in connection with the ongoing probe of procurement of 820 buses by Ambode’s administration.
Justice Adesanya adjourned till 20th of November, 2019 for the respondents in the matter to respond to the plaintiff’s application.
Adesanya had on 29th, October 2019 ordered the Speaker and some members of State House of Assembly to appear before the court after hearing a motion ex-parte moved by Ambode’s lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN).
Other defendants are the Clerk of the House, A. A. Sanni, who signed the newspaper ads, inviting Ambode to the House by 2pm; Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee set up by the House to probe the procurement, Fatai Mojeed; and members of the Committee: Gbolahan Yishawu, A. A. Yusuff, Yinka Ogundimu, Mojisola Lasbat Meranda, M. L. Makinde, Kehinde Joseph, T. A. Adewale and O. S.
The lead counsel to the respondents, Mrs. Adenike Oshinowo prayed the court to give them time to respond to the application because it was received late.
“We were served the notice very late yesterday and we shall be opposing the application and we are asking for a date,” she said.
Following the adjournment, Justice Adesanya, also ordered the parties to maintain the status quo pending the outcome of the case.
Ambode had instituted a suit against the Assembly to contest the constitutionality of the probe of the buses which were procured based on budgetary approval as part of the Bus Reform Project of the State Government designed to revolutionize public transportation.
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.