The Ogun State House of Assembly has advised the former Managing Director of the State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC), Mr. Babajide Odusolu, to defend himself before relevant financial crime agencies over some missing N2bn.
Speaker, Rt. Hon. Olakunle Oluomo, made the clarification while responding to the submissions of the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts and Anti-Corruption, Musefiu Lamidi, and his Deputy, Abdul Bashir Oladunjoye, who raised the issue of media appearance of Odusolu calling out the Assembly over his indictment as contained in the audit reports submitted to the Assembly.
Oluomo, who explained that the audit report did not make any reference to the former governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, advised Odusolu to leave the former governor out of the investigation, as the former MD remained the Accounting Officer during the period the infractions were committed.
The Speaker stated, “Distinguished colleagues, I appreciate your concern that our rights and privileges have been breached by the person in question, by going to the press to start making comments, in any case, it is not in the character of the legislators to go into media war with anybody accused of going against the law of the land.
‘’At the same time, this House of Assembly will not go into a media war with anybody for that matter, but for the purpose of explanation to the people, the State Auditor-General, acting under the power conferred on him by Section 125 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), presented his reports to the House of Assembly; and the same Constitution empowers the Assembly to go into that document and take necessary actions.
“In fact, when you look at Section 128 of the constitution, it empowers the House to expose corruption, waste mismanagement and others. That is why we later looked at the report, which found the man culpable in some instances, we invited him for the purpose of fair hearing to come and defend himself and he came and said a lot of things even before the camera indicting himself.
“For instance, Odusolu agreed that N40m was spent in cash on-site without records of spending, he was even indicting the former governor that it was him that brought the money to the site for spending.
‘’The Corporation bought a land at a negotiated price of N514m from the Bureau of Lands, being a government agency to another agency, about three years after, he sold half of the same land at about N154m without valuation report. If land was purchased for N514m three years earlier, even if he wanted to sell the land at a giveaway price, shouldn’t it even be to the advantage of the State? Worst case scenario, you will sell it at a price you bought it, instead of selling at about N254m he sold it for N154m”.
Speaking earlier, Hon. Oladunjoye had drawn the attention of the Speaker to clarify and inform the people of the State, on the Assembly’s functions in respect of oversights and compliance with financial regulations in the administration of public finance in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, including Corporations like OPIC.
In his submissions, Hon. Lamidi, while corroborating his deputy stated that the Assembly’s report was based on the Auditor-General’s report on the Corporation between 2015 and 2019, its budget performance for the same period, the Corporation’s management representation letter, its bank accounts and financial statements for the same period, as well as financial regulations of the State.
He noted it was foolhardy for Odusolu to state that the Assembly lacked the authority to investigate the accounts of OPIC, the position he stated was contrary to the relevant provisions of the constitution.
It would be recalled that the Assembly had at its previous plenary received and passed a resolution adopting the report of its Public Accounts and Anti- Corruption Committee, which considered the 2015-2019 State Auditor-General’s report on OPIC and therefore called on the Financial Crimes Investigation agencies to investigate and recover into the State’s coffers, the unaccounted balance of N2,579,771,717.71 which happened during Barr. Odusolu’s tenure as the Managing Director of the Corporation.
This was just as the Assembly also directed the former Managing Director to pay back the sum of N40m that was unaccounted for in Year 2019 into the State Government’s purse within six months from today.
The passage of the resolution was consequent upon the presentation of the report of the Committee on the consideration of the State Audit report on OPIC by the Chairman, Musefiu Lamidi, who equally moved the motion for its adoption, seconded by Oludaisi Elemide and unanimously supported by other lawmakers through a voice vote at the plenary presided over by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Oluomo at the Assembly Complex, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
According to the report, “the Committee also observed that the Audit report revealed that in 2019 after generating an income (including subventions and grants) of N3,817,778,776.65 the Corporation expended a total of N1,197,182,579.27 and the balance is N2,620,596,187.38. The expected bank balance at the end of year 2018 was N685,194,035.01 and this brought the expected balance to the tune of N3,305,790,222.39 which was available to the Corporation.
Considering the Year 2019 bank balance sheets submitted to the Committee, the sum of N726,018,504.68 was contained in the Bank balance sheets and this represents an unaccounted balance of N2,579,771,717.71”.
The Assembly equally recommended the reversal of all transactions, including the 8.2 hectares of land at Isheri sold in favour of Rainerhill Internationals Services Limited, a subsidiary of Pesianas Group in the twilight of the last administration at the undervalued price of N164m, stating that it was not done in the best interest of the State; hence all relevant title documents issued in favour of the aforementioned company in relation to the land was declared null and void, while the Corporation should retain the land ownership.
Also, the Committee declared that a retrospective legislative approval is secured for the expended unbudgeted sum of N881.5m, failure to which the Corporation’s erstwhile Managing Director, Odusolu was expected to refund the same amount to the government’s coffers within a deadline of six months, among other infractions.
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