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N2bn Fraud: We’re Not After Amosun, Says Ogun Assembly

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The Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Olakunle Oluomo, says the legislature’s resolution indicting former Managing Director of the State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC), Babajide Odusolu, over N2. 5billion, allegedly unaccounted during his tenure, has nothing to do with the immediate past governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.

Odusolu’s reign between 2015 and 2019 as the OPIC MD and Special Adviser to Amosun, is being probed by the State Assembly.

Last month, the legislature received the report of the House Committee on Public Accounts and Anti- Corruption on the probe, and passed resolutions, calling on the anti – graft agencies to investigate and recover into the State’s coffers, N2,579,771,717.71, allegedly unaccounted for under Odusolu’s watch.

The Assembly also directed the former Managing Director to pay back N40m that was unaccounted for in Year 2019 within six months.

However, Odusolu fired back and accused the lawmakers of political vendetta.

The former MD flanked by a team of lawyers led by Adetunji Adeniyi from Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa and Co, also threatened to approach to court to challenge the proceeding.

Odusolu, a lawyer and real estate expert, accused members of the assembly of lacking accounting and auditing knowledge.

Odusolu said “The Assembly has arrogated to itself the role of judge and jury and passed judgment without having adequate knowledge and information.

“I don’t think this is something that I should allow to go because if I allow it to go, not only will it destroy all the good works that have been done to build Ogun state, it will scare other professionals from ever volunteering to serve.”

Reacting on Tuesday, Oluomo told Odusolu to clear his name, saying the probe report didn’t indict Amosun.

He said “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.”

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AbdulRazaq To Set Up Arabic Board, As Committee On Corporal Punishment In Madrasah Submits Report

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The 11-person committee set up by the Kwara State Government to investigate the corporal punishment meted to some Arabic school students in Ganmo has submitted its report.

Presenting the report to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Monday, chairman of the committee and former Grand Kadi of the state Justice Idris Haroon said their recommendations included an appeal to the government to immediately set up the Arabic Board to regulate the activities of Arabic and Islamic schools.

“One of the most important recommendations which the committee wants Your Excellency to pay attention to is the reconstitution of the Arabic Education Board as the immediate solution to most of the problems confronting Arabic Schools in the state,” he said.

The Committee said it frowns at the magnitude and manner in which the punishment was carried out at the Arabic school and said steps must be taken to ensure that corrective measures are moderate and better implemented.

Justice Haroon commended the government for its proactive measures on the development, saying the committee was “inaugurated on the 15th day of October, 2021, commenced sitting immediately up till the 24th day of October, 2021. Altogether, the Committee had 13 sittings; nine sittings at the Conference Hall, Kwara State Ministry of Energy, Ilorin, one at the premises of Misbaudeen Arabic School, Ganmo, and three in other places within the community. In the course of the sittings, the committee interacted with the Management, Staff and students of the school. It also held sessions with the parents/guardians of the affected students and some members of the host community.”

The Governor, for his part, commended the committee members for accepting the call to serve the people of the state.

He said the government will study and implement the report for the benefits of the society, including the setting up of the Arabic Board.

He said the government understood the delicate nature of the issues involved, hence “we chose to invite experts in the field to look into the issue. We are glad that within the very short period you have come with your report. The government will diligently look into your report.”

Members of the committee were: retired Justice Idris Haroon (chairman); Hon. Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development Hajia Sa’adatu Modibbo Kawu; Special Assistant to the Governor on Religion (Islam) Alhaji Ibrahim Dan Maigoro; Prof. Hamzat Abdulraheem; Prof Badmus Yusuf; Prof. Ali Agan; Dr. Mohammed Ghali Alaya; Dr. Saudat AbdulBaqi; Hajia Balikis Oladimeji of the Federation of Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN); Mallam Lawal Olohungbebe; and Dr AbdulHameed Sanni (Secretary).

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OPINION:Lai Mohammed’s Town Criers: What A Sorry Sight?

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Disillusioned, frustrated, hopeless but desperate for relevance, they have all emptied all their ‘arsenals ‘ and in their emptiness and melancholy, one cannot but be surprised that they are back to their season of mud slinging, muck racking and sheer character assassination.

What they forgot to realize is that Kwarans today, home and abroad see beyond their inherited tales by moonlight handed over to them by their jingoists, conservatives and recycled local champions.

For the record, Late AGF AbdulRazaq (SAN) and father of Governor AA remains the tallest figure, the role model and a leading founding father not only in the making of Nigeria, Northern Nigeria, Kwara State and indeed Ilorin Emirate .

Resilience, persistence and consistency are the secrets to success. So having lost some elections in the past and maintaining its principled focus to deliver good governance in Kwara is the secret to the success of the AbdulRazaq family in Kwara politics. Lai and his lackeys like Sunday Oyebiyi who claims to be from Moro displayed his crass ignorance of the history, have they heard about the persistence of President Abraham Lincoln of the USA?

Even closer home, the serial loss of elections of Chief Awolowo didn’t deny him his greatness as a statesman of outstanding repute. Do Lai and his lackey Sunday Oyebiyi know that the later adopted Moro LG was created by a campaign championed by the statesman AGF AbdulRazaq SAN? Had he known this, Sunday Oyebiyis temerity would have been tempered, but how can you expect this basic knowledge from this myopic non native of Moro whose father is from Iragbiji Osun State?

The frustrated gangs of Lai town criers need to re educate themselves about the revered place in history of the AbdulRazaqs in the making of Kwara State, Ilorin Emirate and Nigeria in general.

By the proud footprints of the AbdulRazaqs in the Independence struggles of Nigeria, the creation of Kwara State and un- common legal battles and deliveries which won for Ilorin to remain today as an Emirate and for all traditional rulers and title holders to have the exclusive rights, honour and regalia of turban as proud symbols and regalia of their titles in Ilorin Emirate history are indisputable and un- ambiguous facts. The late legal Icon, leading light of Northern Nigeria and a patriot per excellence, AGF AbdulRazaq was the main personality who won all the above rights to the eternal glory and pride of all indigenes of Ilorin Emirate and all citizens of Kwara State owe him a huge debt of gratitude for being a leading founding father of the creation of Kwara State.

Until the emergence of the jackals of the dark era; an era Kwarans had put into the dustbin of history with the 2019 Otoge revolution, late AGF AbdulRazaq and his team of patriots were the revered role models of the State ,the Ilorin Emirate and indeed Northern Nigeria in their political evolution and leadership .

Indeed, the historic lesson of the 2019 Otoge revolution can be summed up in the promise of God to reward the steadfast; the unanimous decision of the entire citizens of the State to kick out over four decades of misrule of the State was fueled by the determination to dump the so called dynasty permanently in the dustbin of history.

Lai town criers need to be reminded therefore that even their pay master, Lai is on record to have testified to Governor AbdulRahamanAbdulRazaq’s exemplary and consistent sponsorship of the opposition which earned the Governor the deserved victory of the 2019 Gubernatorial ticket and elections.

Rather than learning from history, the disgruntled associates of Lai Mohammed in their show of shame at a News conference in Ilorin attacked His Excellency, Governor AbdulRahamanAbdulRazaq for exposing the greed of the minister and his outright conversion of campaign funds during the 2019 general elections in Kwara State.

While we understand the agony members of the group are going through since the minister was exposed by our exemplary Governor in his first ever interview published in Thisday Newspaper, the group has failed to answer the pertinent questions raised by His Excellency which borders on integrity, transparency and accountability of a minister of Federal Republic.

While spokesman for the group, Sunday Oyebiyi claimed the minister sourced the fund for the Governor’s campaign, he failed to disclose the source of the funds or answer the question of the donation of N50 million he collected from a popular North West Governor, the 100 Million Naira donated by a business man from the South East, the N32 Million Naira he collected from Representative Tunji Olawuyi AjuloOpin and various funds amounting to about N2 billion donated by APC Governors, Ministers and Heads of Federal parastatals and other well wishers.

The money collected from AjuloOpin was during the re-run election for the House of Representatives following the demise of HonourableFunkeAdedoyin. During the campaign for the rerun, after collecting N32 million from Hon AjuloOpin Lai Mohammed called a top Government official in Abuja and lied that there was no money to campaign for AjuloOpin, the official called His Excellency who was then the governorship candidate to give Lai N50 Million Naira and promised to refund the money. The Governor gave Lai Mohammed the N50 million (Although the money was refunded by the official to His Excellency after about two months) but Lai Mohammed did not disclose the donation to the party, the candidate, nor did he use it for the by-election campaign.

Lai Mohammed being a lawyer cannot deny the fact that by law, failure to disclose financial contributions to parties which the funds were raised for or donated to amounts to criminal conversion.

As emphasized by the Governor in his interview, evidence abounds that Lai Mohammed collected financial contributions from many APC chieftains and supporters on behalf of the party and Governor AbdulRazaq then as the governorship candidate of the APC in the 2019 election without disclosing to the Governor or to the party.

Most painfully, Lai Mohammed did not stop at this; he personally boycotted the Governor’s Campaign programmes and activities and instigated members of the state APC executive Committee to do the same with the exception of one of them who disobeyed the party’s directive to join him on his campaign. The same Sunday Oyebyi refused to join the Governor’s campaign train to Kwara North or any location in Kwara in observance of the boycott called by Lai Mohammed. How could Lai Mohammed fund a campaign that he boycotted? The few times they shared the campaign podium together was during the Presidential campaign flag off and the Vice president’s visit both in Ilorin.

Granted that Lai Mohammed bought about 20 second hand cars branded with Lai Mohammed’s pictures and about 200 motorcycles also branded with his pictures, none of the vehicles or motorcycles was donated or loaned to the party or the Governor. They were given out to Lai Mohammad’s cronies only and the total value could not be more than N70 million which is a drop in the ocean compared to about N2 billion he racked from various parties.

Lai Mohammed and his cronies should therefore be courageous to respond to issue of campaign funds donated to support the Party and Governor AbdulRahamanAbdulRazaq during his 2019 gubernatorial election but which he refused to disclose to either the Party or the Governor and for which the Governor has suffered avoidable embarrassment.

There is no shame in losing an election, they should look in the mirror to see that even their leader, Lai who is more of a Lagos Indigene, made futile attempts to be Kwara Governor on the ticket of the Alliance for Democracy.

In their display of ignorance, this group failed woefully to understand Governor AbdulRahaman’s repeated emphasis in describing the near precipice and total collapse of machinery of State he found upon assuming office . He inherited a dysfunctional governance system, decrepit infrastructure and demoralized civil service from the displaced dynasty. This state of affairs required laying a new foundation for a new prosperous Kwara rather than focusing a manifesto articulated on an assumption of consolidation.

Either out of senility or mischief, members of the Lai Mohammed group forgot so soon that Governor AbdulRazaq won twice consecutively, the best Governor of year as result of peer review by the Progressive Governors’ Forum .

A governor who deviated from the APC manifesto could not have been honoured by his peers twice back to back.

We insist that the Lai group abandoned His Excellency during the campaign and even aborted the launch of his manifesto slated for Baruten in Kwara North during the campaign

We have always known that the intention of the minister and his associates is to foist another dynasty on Kwarans and turn the state treasury into his slush fund like members the ousted administration who were roundly rejected by the people of the state in 2019 after four decades of misrule.

We like to remind minister Lai Mohammed and his hirelings that this is a new Kwara where governance and political processes are no longer at the whims and caprices of primordial egocentric godfathers ; this sordid practice has been condemned to the dustbin of history courtesy of the Otoge revolution .

We call on all members of our party who have been misled by the minister to retrace their steps and return to the All Progressive Congress under the newly elected Chairman, Chief Sunday Fagbemi

We thank His Excellency, Governor AbdulrahmanAbdulRazaq for his un- common statesmanship tolerating the ignominious activities of the group.

His humility and hard work have endeared him to the people of Kwara State and strengthened their resolve never to return to the days of the Jackals that the likes of Lai Muhammed intend to provoke! Never again!

Omo’Oba Musbau Salaudeen writes from Isin LGA, Kwara State.

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33 States May Not Pay Salaries As N172bn Deduction Grounds Revenue Disbursement

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Payment of salaries by about 33 states of the federation is uncertain as the decision of the federal government to debit local government accounts in commencement of a payment of $418 million (N172 billion) to private consultants on Paris Cub refund has pitched states and local governments against it (FG).

BudgIT, a civic group committed to government financial transparency, in its report, ‘State of States 2019’, said only three Nigerian state governments (Lagos, Rivers and Akwa Ibom) can finance their recurrent expenditure without allocation from the federal government.

There had been pressure from the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and the general public to stop the suspicious payments to the consultants.

However, in a dramatic twist, less than a month after a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari,, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has commenced deductions to pay the claimants.

The permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, told the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting on Friday that it has commenced the deductions to pay the consultants.

This information has irked the states which then refused to consider the revenue for the month of October 2021 until the FG comes clean with the deductions.

The Paris Club payments

In 2006, the federal government paid $12 billion to get an $18 billion debt write-off by the Paris Club of international creditors.

However, because the payment was made directly from the revenue accruing to the entire federation, states and LGAs that did not owe the Paris Club asked the federal government for a refund.

Some consultants had surfaced along the line to claim a percentage of the refunds as payment for their purported services to the states and LGAs.

Some contractors also claimed they were asked to execute projects across the country by the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).

Questions were, however, asked on why states would need consultants to negotiate with the federal government over the refund, while the projects said to have been awarded by ALGON turned out to be mostly non-existent.

The governors had asked for a forensic audit.

While the contractors and consultants went to court, the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, negotiated an out-of-court settlement with them and agreed to pay $418 million as judgment debt.

Meanwhile, despite opposition by the governors and activists, President Buhari went ahead to approve the payments.

Governors cautioned bank CEOs against payment

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) had asked banks and their compliance officers to disregard the payment of the controversial $418,953,670.59 to consultants.

In a fresh letter dated September 3, signed by P. H. Ogbole, another Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the governors reiterated that the promissory notes should be disregarded.

The letter was addressed to the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the finance minister, the director-general of the Debt Management Office and MDs/CEOs/compliance officers of all commercial banks in the country.

“The issuance of promissory notes of a humongous sum of over $418 million to private persons for alleged consultancy work demands not only caution but strict due diligence; particularly when the judgements which gave rise to the payments sought to be enforced are the subject of pending litigation.

“Matters that are sub judice must not be acted upon in a manner that will foist a situation of complete helplessness on the courts and render their decisions nugatory.

“This caveat is therefore issued as a further notice to the honourable minister of finance and the director-general, Debt Management Office to act in the interest of the public and refrain from foisting on the nation another case of P&ID in which but for due diligence, the nation would have been fleeced of billions of dollars.

Forum for Commissioners of Finance protest

A terse statement signed by Mr. David Olofu, chairman, Forum for Commissioners of Finance of Nigeria said the debit happened without notification of all concerned.

The statement indicated that “members declined approval after consideration of the reports for the disbursement of the available revenue because of deduction on funds belonging to the Local Government Councils in favour of some consultants for a $418 million judgment debt for consultancy services with respect to Paris Club Loans refund.”

It said: “Based on available information, the deduction will continue for 10 years (120 months). This is contrary to the provisions of Section 162 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.”

Mr. Olofu also noted that “the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) had objected to the execution of this judgment until full determination of ongoing litigation on the subject matter.”

He disclosed that the “Commissioners for Finance representing states and local government councils do not have prior knowledge of the deduction and coming at a time when states and LGCs are in dire straits will further worsen the fiscal position of these tiers of government.”

He added that “consequent upon these, the meeting was adjourned to allow for further consultations and resolution of all the issues that had been previously raised by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) regarding the assignment that gave rise to the claim and the judgment.”

Expert say FG is acting in contempt

Commenting, Barr Eze Onyekpere, the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), said the federal government is acting in contempt of the court and disrespecting the rule of law.

The federal government is disrespectful of the rule of law. That’s not the way to go. If the FG has gone ahead to overreach the court, that means the FG isn’t waiting for the court to reach a decision,” he said.

He said, “That means as far as the federal government is concerned, the court case is immaterial. They don’t care about the judiciary. It’s improper,” he said.

He noted that “the states should insist that their matter be heard and bring it to the court that the federal government is in contempt of the court.” He also noted that “the minister or whosoever is in charge is acting in contempt of the powers of the court.”

“This is a dictatorship and it’s being executed by those in the corridors of power. This is totally unacceptable” he stated.

Barr Onyekpere also said the stalemate will impact the states’ capacity to pay their bills.

“It will impact the states. They are living on a shoestring budget. They don’t have the revenue to do their work. So the states should insist either amicably or through the judiciary. They shouldn’t accept whatever is shoved down their throats simply because the federal government is holding the money,” he said.

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