Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, has been accused of setting up a panel that appears destined to exonerate him from raging allegations of graft.
In a letter addressed to the lawmakers through the Clerk of the House, foremost anti-corruption group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), said the Speaker, whose second term had been marred in a string of corruption charges, is using the House investigation Committee as a smokescreen to exonerate himself from the allegations.
In a statement, Chairman of HEDA, Mr 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.”
The HEDA Chairman said his group, which was invited to substantiate the corruption allegations, got the invitation through email few hours to the sitting of the committee and at a time when the committee was already dramatising the invitation in social and mainstream media.
HEDA said its petition to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission subsists and that the Speaker and his panel should not assume they can take over the work of the anti-graft institution.
HEDA added, “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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
It added, “This is clearly manifested in the hideous appearances and submission of bank officials before the panel.”