Rights group Human and Environmental Development Agenda Resource Centre (HEDA) has accused the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly Mudashiru Obasa of setting up a compromised panel that will ultimately exonerate him from serious allegations of graft.
In a letter addressed to the lawmakers through the Clerk of the House, HEDA’s chairperson Olanrewaju Suraju said: “The panel set up by the Lagos State House of Assembly is made up cronies of the Speaker. There is no way justice will be delivered to the people of Lagos whose resources Obasa was said to have pillaged”.
Suraju said that although HEDA was invited by the House to substantiate the corruption allegations, it only received an email invitation a few hours to the first sitting of the Committee.
HEDA said its petition to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) subsists and that the Speaker and the House panel should not usurp the functions of the anti-graft agency.
“Considering the inherent fundamental flaws and procedural defects in the procedure, appointment of the committee, process of invitation and the shenanigans of the committee, we have decided that the committee does not deserve a response from our organisation,” Suraju said.
The group said the invitation was deliberately served without any genuine intent of receiving any input from the public.
“Your committee, via our official email address sent an invitation to our organisation at 6.07pm on Wednesday, at a time when offices had closed, and requested our appearance before a committee at 10.00am the following day. A sincere, impartial and independent committee will never send an invitation to an individual and organisation for an appearance at the sitting of the committee with less than 24 hours notice, as was the case in this circumstance” Suraju stated.
He said it is pathetic to see the Lagos House of Assembly equate the Speaker of the Assembly to the institution, adding that the personification of the House is worrisome.
Suraju said the name of the the committee is titled “AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATION AND FACT FINDINGS ON THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THE HOUSE”, as contained in the letter adding that the allegations read in the papers and social media were against the Speaker, Honourable Obasa, and not the House.
“Under the principle of fair process, the House is unfit to be a judge in its own case by constituting a committee to investigate allegations of crime against it. The Committee was impatient in its haste to arrive at a predetermined conclusion. Hence, its alleged turned down of its invitation to the invited Civil Society Organisations was already communicated through a press address to the media less than one hour after the expected “appearance” of the invitees”
HEDA said a credible and responsive government institution will not allow the subject of allegations to preside over the process of his investigation.
The group said: “The speaker cannot constitute a committee of his loyalists, many of whom have defended him on these allegations through the vote of confidence passed on him and expect any iota of seriousness or credibility attached to the committee or its recommendations. This simply goes without saying.
HEDA said it was wrong for the house to invite the group to a meeting when in actual fact no petition was submitted to the Assembly by our organisation in the first place.
“The allegations against the Speaker are criminal in nature and completely outside the parliamentary power of the Assembly. We have directed these petitions to the appropriate law enforcement agencies for their actions. It would be honourable for the Assembly to allow these agencies discharge their statutory responsibilities of investigating this matter.”
HEDA said the agenda of the Committee and the Assembly is to create a semblance of clean bill of health for the Speaker with the hope of deceiving the public and stampeding the law enforcement agencies.
“This is clearly manifested in the hideous appearances and submission of bank officials before the panel.
Though, news reports suggest that the committee has already concluded its ‘sittings’ and is expected to pronounce its ‘findings’ of “Not Guilty” next week, it is our hope that the Committee and the House will have the courage to give account of the utilisation of public funds to the anti graft agencies that are investigating the allegations of grave corruption and abuse of office committed by the Speaker.