The Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Right Hon, Mudashiru Obasa, has drawn battle line with Saharareporters, a frontline online publication with headquarters in the US, over reports of alleged corruption in the Lagos legislative arm and linking the speaker to numerous allegations of fraud. The Lagos Assembly Speaker referred to the publications as ‘fake reports.’
Curiously, both Speaker Obasa and SaharaReporters brandish documents to prove their publications or counter-dispositions.
The Lagos Assembly Speaker was enraged with numerous allegations of corruption leveled against him by Sahara Reporters, then, opened fireworks to hit back.
Obasa disputed the report that he supposedly approved N258,835,000 to print invitation two months after the inauguration of the 9th Assembly. The Speaker declared that “WHAT WAS APPROVED FOR THE PRINTING OF THE INVITATION CARD FOR EVENT WAS JUST N1,130,000.”
The Speaker stated that “for the avoidance of doubt, the entire inauguration of the 9th Assembly can be summed up into a total of N61.3 million…” He accompanied his response with document, giving a breakdown of the expenses.
Sahara Reporters had alleged that the payment of the N258,835,000 was processed on the orders of Obasa two months after the inauguration was held. It indicated that the inauguration of the Ninth House of Assembly which had 34 returning lawmakers and six new members held on June 7, 2019. Sahara Reporters then, cited that a document titled “Celebrations and Ceremonies”; dated August 7, 2019; partly read: “Being payment approved for the printing of invitation cards during the inauguration of the 9th Assembly as per Hon. Speaker’s approval vide LSHA/LM/C/276.”
Speaker Obasa was silent on the timing of the payment though disputed the N258,835,000.
Obasa also said he came out with proof that Sahara Reporters LIED in its claim that the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly spends N17 million to maintain his office and personal apartment.
Sahara Reporters had alleged that Obasa is using companies linked to him to receive various sums of money from the Lagos State House of Assembly. The publication revealed that on February 22, Lagos House of Assembly, through its expenditure account, transferred the sum of N17 million to Wema Bank account of Extremely Logistics and Cleaning Services Limited. Sahara Reporters added that a source in the State Legislature revealed that the fund was being transferred monthly to Extremely Logistics and Cleaning Services Limited following directives from Obasa.
The publication cited: “In documents, Obasa sent a letter he received from General Manager of Extremely Logistics and Cleaning Services Limited, Omoba Adeyinka Oyediran, charging him N25.5 million monthly for the maintenance and provision of other essentials at the Office of the Speaker, residence and guest house.”
Sahara Reporters maintained: “during checks with the Corporate Affairs Commission, Extremely Logistics and Cleaning Services Limited was registered the same year Obasa became Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly in 2015.”
The publication insisted, the letter read in part: “Please refer to our discussion on the need for our company to take up the facility management and provision of other essentials at the office of the Hon. Speaker, residence and guest house.
“Following our in-depth study of what the jobs entail, please see the attached. I wish to inform you that to be able to offer satisfactory performance, the details of the financial requirements of the various jobs on monthly basis are as follows…
“Consequent on the foregoing, kindly approve that the management of the House should henceforth release the above stated sums to the company on monthly basis to facilitate smooth and timely execution of the jobs.”
The question Speaker Obasa may have to answer on this controversy: Is he living in the Speaker’s Residence at G.R.A., Ikeja, provided by the state government since he became Speaker of Lagos Assembly in 2015? Or since rejecting the official residence, what is the monthly allowance for residential maintenance or accommodation?
Speaker Obasa also talked of another spurious report that he approved N45.7 million for 2019 Christmas party that wsd never held.
He said the party held at the Assembly premises of the Lagos State Assembly and it was two-in-one, a combination of the Outreach programme and the normal Christmas party.
He listed participants to include the First Lady of Lagos, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; clergymen, including the General Overseer of Christ Living Apostolic Ministry (CLAM), Pastor Wole Oladiyun; His Royal Highness, Babatunde Ogunlaja, senior female politician, Chief Kemi Nelson, party chiefs and local government chairmen and others.
The Speaker supported his response with photographs and videos.
Sahara Reporters has an internal sources for the information who Obasa described as co-travelers.
Obasa further stated that Sahara Reporters goofed on the allegation of the N53.7 million approved by the Speaker to take an imaginary mistress to the United States; pointing out that the publication failed to acknowledge that the travel was officially for Speaker Obasa, members of the House and some staff.
He added that the event was even an opportunity to recognise and honour deserving staff, who had excelled in the course of their careers.
The Speaker noted some facts he said Sahara Reporters either deliberately and maliciously shielded or was blind to. He explained that the event was to Georgia, United States, for the 2019 US-Nigeria Trade and Investment Global Summit which was billed to hold between 26th and 28th September 2019. He noted that the Speaker went for the event on a different flight from the lawmakers and others.
Obasa added that on getting to the US, the summit was discovered to have clashed with a United Nations event which took pre-eminence on Nigerian officials. Thus, the Speaker, lawmakers and staff returned ahead of an anticipated new date for the event.
The Speaker’s sounded conflicting, contradictory and self-defeatist within the context he presented his explanations.
Why recognizing or honouring deserving staff in US for excelling in their careers in Nigeria? Were the Lagos lawmakers also in the dark that they were not aware of global diplomatic timetable of UN activities before departing Nigeria? Were Nigerian officials so ignorant of their international mission to the US that they did not know that the 2019 US-Nigeria Trade and Investment Global Summit was schedule on a date UN event was holding, and they opted for the UN event? Did the Lagos lawmakers get invitation to the 2019 US-Nigeria Trade and Investment Global Summit? Was the recognition of the deserving staff attached to the US Summit?
The Speaker could not clarify the allegation that he used his position in the State Assembly since 2015 to approve N47.5 million per quarter from the state treasury for social media influencers.
Sahara Reporters had stated that documents for the transactions showed that the payment was made to a media company to publicise the activities of the State Assembly.
The Lagos Speaker refuted the allegation of awarding contracts to himself, through his companies, and launder public funds.
Sahara Reporters listed some companies it said are linked to Obasa and used to get contracts from the Lagos Assembly.
Sahara Reporters noted that documents they sighted showed that the companies include: Adesav International Ventures, Quick Solution International Ventures, White Honey Enterprises, Cream on Ice Services, A.B DELCO Nigeria Company, and Fabric Splash Ventures; Skye-Macosh Company, Swifthill International Ventures, Silver Section Global, Davedab Global Ventures and Jose Macosh Company.
Sahara Reporters stated that Obasa was formally using De Kingrun Multipurpose Nigeria Limited to get and implement contracts from the State Assembly and ministries.
“To avoid it being directly linked to him, the Speaker did not use his name to register but used his father, wife and children as shareholders in the company,” Sahara Reporters declared.
The publication further declared: “In the Company and Allied Matters Decree 1990 of De Kingrun Multipurpose Nigeria Ltd. with RC: A813/08/308 sighted by Sahara Reporters, the names listed on the company are Obasa’s father, one of his wives and three of his children.
“As at the time of registration and listing of names, Obasa’s children were underage yet they were registered as businessmen by the Speaker.
“Obasa is the sole signatory to all the bank accounts of the company.”
Sahara Reporters also alleged that an account domicile at the Zenith Bank Branch at Oke Ilewo, Abeokuta, Ogun State, has in it hundreds of millions of naira illegally acquired by the Speaker of Lagos House of Assembly.
Speaker Obasa had at the House plenar denied using his company, Dekingrun Multipurpose Nigeria Limited, to get contracts from the House, saying the reports are false.
Rt. Hon. Obasa had declared: “Let me also join you to emphasise that what was published by ‘Sahara Liar’ has nothing to do with me.
“I said it two weeks ago when the publication was out about the existence of the Dekingrun, where I made my position known on that.
“But the fact remains that Dekingrun has no relationship with the Lagos Assembly. And I am challenging ‘SaharaLiars and Failures’ to publish if there is any. At least, they have alleged, and they must be able to prove by giving out the name of such contracts, the amount, the location, the date and the contractual agreement.
“So, with this, the public would be convinced that truly such allegation exists.”
Meanwhile, the public has a choice to decide who to believe.