Former Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has approached the Lagos High Court in Ikeja, to challenge the constitutionlity of the ongoing probe of procurement of 820 buses by the administration.
Ambode in the suit noted that the procurement was based on budgetary approval as part of the Bus Reform Project of the State Government designed to revolutionize public transportation.
In an order dated 29th October, 2019 issued by Justice Y.A Adesanya after hearing a motion ex-parte moved by Ambode’s lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), ordered the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa to appear before it.
The court also ordered the House Clerk, Mr A.A Sanni, Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee set up by the House to probe the procurement, Fatai Mojeed and members of the Committee to appear before it.
Other ordered to appear are Gbolahan Yishawu, A.A Yusuff, Yinka Ogundimu, Mojisola Lasbat Meranda, M.L Makinde, Kehinde Joseph, T.A Adewale and O.S Afinni.
Justice Adesanya ordered the originating processes and all the accompanying processes filed by the claimant (Ambode) to be served on the defendants and subsequently fixed Wednesday, October 30, 2019, for hearing of a motion for interlocutory injunction.
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.
“In section 1 of the Bill, the 1st Defendant (House of Assembly) authorized the total Budget for the year 2018 to be One Trillion, Forty Six Billion, One Hundred and Twenty One Million, One Hundred and Eighty-One Thousand, Six Hundred and Eighty Naira (N1,046,121,181,680.00) comprising the sum of Three Hundred and Forty Seven Billion, Thirty-Eighty Million, Nine Hundred and Thirty-Eight Thousand, Eight-Hundred and Seventy-Two Naira (N347,038,938,872.00) only and Six Hundred and Ninety-Nine Billion, Eighty-Two Million, Two Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Eight Hundred and Eighty Naira (N699,082,242,808.00) only as the Recurrent and Capital Expenditures respectively.
“Part of the items authorized by the Bill under Capital Expenditure was: “LAGBUS Public Transport Infrastructure (MEPB); Part financing of 820 buses” which was item 8 under schedule 1- Part C of the Bill,” the former Governor averred.
He added that having prescribed the manner of withdrawal of funds in sections 3 and 4 of the 2018 Appropriation Law, it was unconstitutional for the House to attach another condition in section 9 of the law for further approval to be sought before incurring any expenditure on the purchase of the buses.
Highlighting the specific breach of his constitutional rights to fair hearing by the House, the former Governor said on August 27, 2019 during proceedings of the Assembly, some lawmakers thoroughly vilified and disparaged him as having purchased the buses without budgetary approval and that the procurement was a waste of public funds, while at the end of the proceedings, the House resolved to constitute an Ad Hoc Committee to probe the procurement.
According to the former governor, it was surprising that the very lawmakers who contributed actively in vilifying, disparaging and denigrating him constituted the bulk of the members of the Committee, which was a clear derogation of his right to a fair hearing.
Ambode added that in continuation of deliberate misrepresentation of facts of the issue, the House falsely claimed that an invitation had been extended to him to appear before the Committee but that he failed to honour the said invitation.