By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
Ogun State House of Assembly has clarified that it will not go into media war with anyone but rather advised the former Managing Director of the State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC), Jide Odusolu to go and defend himself before relevant financial crime agencies responsible for financial investigations.
The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Olakunle Oluomo made the clarification while, responding to the submissions of the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts and Anti-Corruption, Musefiu Lamidi, and his Deputy, Abdul Bashir Oladunjoye, who raised the issue of media appearance of Odusolu calling out the Assembly over his indictment as contained in the audit reports submitted to the Assembly during today’s plenary.
Oluomo, who explained that the audit report did not make any reference to former Governor Amosun, advised Odusolu to leave the former governor out of the investigation as the former MD remained the Accounting Officer during the period the infractions were committed.
The Speaker stated, “distinguished colleagues, I appreciate your concern that our rights and privileges have been breached by the person in question, by going to the press to start making comments, in any case, it is not in the character of the legislators to go into media war with anybody accused of going against the law of the land.
At the same time, this House of Assembly will not go into media war with anybody for that matter, but for the purpose of explanation to the people of the State, the State Auditor General, acting under the power conferred on him by Section 125 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), presented his reports to the House of Assembly; and the same constitution empowers the Assembly to go into that documents and take necessary actions.
In fact, when you look at Section 128 of the constitution, it empowers the House to expose corruption, waste mismanagement and others. That is why we later looked at the report, which found the man culpable in some instances, we invited him for the purpose of fair hearing to come and defend himself and he came and said a lot of things even before the camera indicting himself.
For instance, Odusolu agreed that N40m was spent in cash on site without records of spending, he was even indicting the former Governor that it was him that brought the money to the site for spending, you can imagine that!
The Corporation bought land at a negotiated price of N514m from the Bureau of Lands, being a government agency to another agency, about three years after, he sold half of the same land at about N154m without a valuation report. If a land was purchased for N514m three years earlier, even if he wanted to sell the land at a giveaway price, shouldn’t it even be to the advantage of the State? Worst case scenario, you will sell it at a price you bought it, instead of selling at about N254m he sold it for N154m.
At a point, he started writing letters to the House that he does not want to appear, he cannot appear, he traveled, he is sick. And because we have a duty to serve the people of the State, to expose corruption and waste, all we did was to say, if the man is not coming again, he should go and meet the people that are empowered by law to do further investigations.
The man started going to various television stations, what has that got to go with the House of Assembly? I repeat this House would not engage in media war with anybody. And he was trying to draw the former Governor into it, this is not about Amosun.
The audit report did not mention Amosun’s name, the report mentioned Odusolu as the MD of OPIC, who was the accounting officer of the Corporation. The House is not engaging in witch-hunting, it is purely the duty of the House to protect the resources of Ogun State from being wasted. So if he likes, let him buy and advertise in 250 newspapers and even go to CNN”.
Earlier, Oladunjoye had drawn the attention of the Speaker on the need for to clarify and inform the people of the State on the Assembly’s functions in respect of oversights and compliance with financial regulations in the administration of public finance in the State Ministries, Departments and Agencies including Corporations like OPIC.
In his submissions, Hon. Lamidi while corroborating his deputy stated that the Assembly’s report was based on the Auditor General’s report on OPIC between 2015 and 2019, its budget performance for the same period, the corporation’s management representation letter, its bank accounts and financial statements for the same period as well as financial regulations of the State.
He noted it was foolhardy for Odusolu to state that the Assembly lacked the authority to investigate the accounts of OPIC, the position he stated was contrary to the relevant provisions of the constitution.
It would be recalled that the Assembly had at its previous plenary received and passed a resolution adopting the report of its Public Accounts and Anti- Corruption Committee, which considered the 2015-2019 State Auditor-General’s report on OPIC, (OPIC) and therefore called on the financial crimes investigation agencies to investigate and recover into the State’s coffers, the unaccounted balance of N2,579,771,717.71 which happened during Barr. Babajide Odusolu’s tenure as the Managing Director of the Corporation.
This was just as the Assembly also directed the former Managing Director to pay back the sum of N40m that was unaccounted for in the Year 2019 into the State Government’s purse within six months from today.
The passage of the resolution was consequent upon the presentation of the report of the Committee on the consideration of the State Audit report on OPIC by the Chairman, Musefiu Lamidi, who equally moved the motion for its adoption, seconded by Oludaisi Elemide and unanimously supported by other lawmakers through a voice vote at the plenary presided over by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Olakunle Oluomo at the Assembly Complex, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
According to the report, “the Committee also observed that the Audit report revealed that in 2019 after generating an income (including subventions and grants) of N3,817,778,776.65 the Corporation expended a total of N1,197,182,579.27 and the balance is N2,620,596,187.38. The expected bank balance at the end of year 2018 was N685,194,035.01 and this brought the expected balance to the tune of N3,305,790,222.39 which was available to the Corporation.
Considering the Year 2019 bank balance sheets submitted to the Committee, the sum of N726,018,504.68 was contained in the Bank balance sheets and this represents an unaccounted balance of N2,579,771,717.71”.
The Assembly equally recommended the reversal of all transactions including the 8.2 Hectares of land at Isheri sold in favour of Rainerhill Internationals Services Limited, a subsidiary of Pesianas Group in the twilight of the last administration at the undervalued price of N164M, stating that it was not done in the best interest of the State; hence all relevant title documents issued in favour of the aforementioned company in relation to the land was declared null and avoid, while the Corporation should retain the land ownership.
Also, the Committee declared that a retrospective legislative approval be secured for the expended unbudgeted sum of N881.5M, failure to which the Corporation’s erstwhile Managing Director, Odusolu was expected to refund same amount to the government’s coffers within a deadline of six months amongst other infractions.