…Fashola, Ambode, Obasa, Others’ Cases To Be Pursued By New State Anti-graft Agency
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu has signed a new law which may see the state government takeover corruption cases that are currently being investigated by federal anti-graft agencies in the country including cases involving one of the national leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
This much was contained in a legislation titled ‘Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law’ signed into law by Sanwo-Olu last week.
The law mandates anti-graft agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), among others to hand over corruption cases to the state government.
A report by The Punch had cited that the new legislation empowers the state to establish a new anti-corruption agency which would oversee investigation regarding financial crimes, corruption cases or any other related matter involving finances within Lagos jurisdiction.
According to the legislation, only the Lagos state anti-graft agency would have the exclusive rights to coordinate investigation regarding corruption cases or misappropriation of the Lagos State finances.
Section 13 (3) of the law reads, “The commission shall upon the commencement of this law take over the investigation of all anti-corruption and financial crime cases involving the finances and assets of Lagos State Government being investigated by any other agency.”
Section 13 (5) also states: “The commission shall have the power to the exclusion of any other agency or body to investigate and coordinate the investigation of corruption and financial crimes cases involving the finances and assets of the state government.”
According to the law, the new anti-graft agency shall have the power to investigate financial crimes or corruption cases against any person or administrative action taken by any ministry, department, agency or parastatal of the state government or any local government.
The new anti-graft agency also has the power to investigate cases of abuse of office, offences relating to administration of justice, obtaining by false pretences, cybercrime, fake news, interception of emails and fraudulent dealing with property debtors.
However, the new anti-graft agency is barred from investigating cases that are already pending before the Lagos State House of Assembly, the Lagos State Executive Council or any court of law.
Corruption cases involving members of the Nigeria Police Force and the Armed Forces, also cannot be probed by the agency except acts of corruption committed by them as private individuals.
Following the instruments in the new law, The New Diplomat’s checks revealed that the state anti-graft agency is set to take over the corruption claims allegedly linked to former Lagos governors, Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode, who are being investigated/under EFCC’s radar.
The new anti-graft agency is likely to also take over the investigation of the alleged corruption linked with the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, who helped facilitate the passage of the law.
The EFCC had in November last year written a letter to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), demanding for the copy of the asset declaration forms of Tinubu and Fashola as part of a wider probe. However, the details of Fashola’s probe have never been revealed.
The New Diplomat had also reported that Tinubu had been alleged of running the Alpha Beta Consulting, a company that collects taxes on behalf of Lagos government. A former managing director of the Alpha Beta Consulting, Mr Dapo Apara has since filed a petition against Tinubu.
According to the petition, Tinubu allegedly enriched himself by using the tax consultancy firm to divert Lagos funds and commit tax evasion up to the tune of N100bn.
It was reported that the former governor is also being investigated by the EFCC over allegations that he transported cash-laden bullion vans to his Lagos home on the eve of the 2019 presidential election.
Similarly, the EFCC, in 2019, had commenced investigation of an alleged N9.9 billion fraud linked to Ambode.
Obasa was also grilled by the EFCC in October 2020, over allegations of fraudulent activities, which include bogus estacode claims.
Claims have surfaced that he mismanaged public funds running into hundreds of millions of naira.
While the Lagos speaker denied most of the allegations, he admitted that N80m as estacode was approved for the training of the wives of 20 lawmakers in Dubai.