Saturday, August 20, 2022
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Fashola Appropriated N78m For Personal Aggrandisement –Adeniran

Debo Adeniran, social crusader and Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), is a leading critic of former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola. He recently urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to consider Fashola for appointment over the unexplained financial transactions of Lagos under his watch. In this interview with TUNDE OPESEITAN, he gave reasons for his actions. Excerpts:

How would you react to the allegation that about N78.3 million was spent for website upgrade by the immediate past regime in Lagos State?

Comrade Debo Adeniran
Comrade Debo Adeniran

When the news broke that he (Fashola) spent about $400, 000 to upgrade his website, we initially thought he brought out the money from his private account, but when we now checked on the website of the Lagos State Public Procurement Commission, we discovered that N78. 3 million of public fund was spent. Then we cross-checked on word press and our findings revealed that the most expensive website in the world today is around N600, 000. We then queried the firm that handled the upgrade and that was when they came out with the revelation that they only collected N10 million. Actually they wanted N12 million, but N10 million was paid. So, the question that arose is where is N68.3 million that is the difference between N10 million paid for the job and N78.3 million that was approved to which the Lagos State official website claimed was paid for the service? So, it is not so much about insisting that somebody has stolen the money; we are just saying that the chief accounting officer of that regime should give us explanation on where the N68.3 million is. He should tell us what they did with the money whether it was returned to the coffers of the state government and why should it be that the governor would spend so much money to finance his own personal website? It is immaterial that the website was meant to showcase the achievement of the gentleman, but the state as an institution has its own website and the question is why would that not be enough? Why couldn’t they have created a section of the state website to showcase these achievements? Afterall everything that the state website contains must be the achievements of the regime in power during that period. So, why should they create another website for the governor in his own personal name because the website was not created as governor of Lagos state but in the name of Babatunde Raji Fashola? That is why we are worried that that could have been appropriated for personal aggrandizement.

           

You were one of the major voices that questioned the integrity of Governor Fashola while in office. Why did you walked along that line when it seemed unpopular to do so?

If you remember in 2009 and early 2010, there was this publication by the True Face of Lagos questioning the contracts that were awarded and some that were re-awarded. The group had alleged that the contracts were massively inflated and when we saw it, we were alarmed. Then, the state government’s response was not satisfying to the extent that they said the True Face of Lagos was a faceless group and the rest of them. We now said it does not matter who pushed such allegation to the public and that the most important thing was for the government to state whether the allegations were true or not. If they were not true, state your position about it. We then wrote the state government and they failed to respond. When we waited for so long and there was no response, we then wrote the Lagos State House of Assembly asking that they should probe themselves because they were also indicted in the same publication and probe the executive. When the House of Assembly picked up the issue and set up a committee to probe the allegations, Richard Akinola went to court using the late Bamidele Aturu to challenge that and they got an injunction stopping the House from going ahead with the proceeding in the probe of the allegations. But we were not satisfied by that because if the regime, as headed by Tunde Raji Fashola had nothing to hide, it was not the court that they ought to have headed for; they ought to have opted for explanation. But when that explanation was not forthcoming and the House had been stopped from proceeding, we now wrote another petition that was sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). We adopted the one for the EFCC after we were invited. Now, by the end of February of 2010 when we did not get any serious response, we gathered our information and put it as an advertorial in a newspaper and still no response came from government because we said if they had anything to defend in the allegation, they should respond. And when they failed to respond for so long, we took it as a notorious fact and that was why we also went back to EFCC to say look these people have not defended anything; why have you decided not to prosecute them? They told us that they had started inviting principal officers of the regime and that they have started questioning them. That we did for so long and when we did not get any usable answer, we went to town and invited five people from each of the then twenty Local Governments to the Institute of Medical Research in Yaba in what we called Lagos Open Parliament and there we raised the question that each representative should tell us their impression of government’s performance in their Local Governments and there were tale of woes and our reaction was that this was a governor that was being carried as being performing. Remember, that was about the time he had just done something in Oshodi and we knew that what he did in Oshodi was not a state government’s job because it was about re-arranging the motor parks, markets and the road there is of the Federal Government. The only thing you can say belong to the state is may be the flyover. We were of the opinion that this was a local government function that had been usurped by the state government with the view to get popular support. So, at the Lagos parliament, we administered questionnaires on the people and the response was in the negative. We were still not satisfied and we went to town to administer the questionnaires in all the local governments; we monitored the radio programmes; we monitored newspapers, internet and so on, and we got our responses. We went to town and we took photographs of the site we believed that things were not properly done. We prepared our findings into a manuscript and we even sent to the state government and also called a press conference. Still, there was no response and gradually we got our members together and compiled our findings into a book and we called it “Open Parliament 1,” the state of budgetary implementation in Lagos, 2009 to 2011 or thereabout. We sent copies to the state government and still, there was no response and then we were now wondering how a state government can be so snobbish. It was at that point that we declared protest without end and since then, it had been protest after protest in different formats. From what journalists published in the media, internet and so on, we compiled them into a book and termed it “Open Parliament 2.” We also sent it to the state government and there was no reaction. We even wrote under the Freedom of Information Act and the Ministry of Justice replied us that the FOI Act is not operative in Lagos, being a federal legislation. And the most annoying aspect was that Lagos was the centre of activities that led to the enactment of FOI Act. Fashola’s predecessor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu was part of the struggle for the emergence of FOI Act and it was worrisome that the same state under Fashola was now championing the sabotage of the FOI Act. So, the major reasons why we asked the presidency not to consider Fashola for appointment is because if a man that was that snobbish at the state level could be appointed into higher federal office, then it would not be too good. Fashola never believed in a law that sought to enhance transparency, openness, probity and participatory governance, and such a man does not deserve higher appointment.                        

How would you react to the allegation that you are being sponsored to rubbish Fashola at all cost?

Well, that is the normal thing you hear when things are like this. When people commit indefensible offences and you expose them, you are bound to hear something of such. Even if I’m being sponsored to raise critical questions that you have not been able to answer, why not? Infact, I will like to be sponsored to do what I love to do. The question is not about who is the messenger, the question is about the message. But I should tell you, nobody sponsored us. If we had gotten people to sponsor us, we would have done a better book; we would have had enough copies to circulate to everybody in Lagos; we would have been able to buy newspapers’ pages and advertise the book beyond what anybody can stop; we would have done so much more than what you are hearing. Because of paucity of resources, we compiled one book for almost three years. The second book we compiled it for more than two years. If we have sponsors, all of these things could be done within six months or less and we have done it in greater quantity. To directly answer your question, nobody sponsored us, but we would be glad if we have sponsors.

In the past few months, the EFCC has suddenly woken up to its responsibility. How do you see this?

That is the kind of reaction you get from the body language of the present regime. There is no agency that can be more effective than the regime that sets it up. That is why people say he who pays the piper dictate the tune. There is no agency that will not study the body language of the regime that puts it together before it acts and so it is because they saw the pedigree and antecedents of the president in power now that is simply making them to be alive to their duty. I believe that they are yet to be empowered the way they should because we at the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders have advocated that the anti-corruption agencies should be strengthened; they should be better funded; they should be better trained; they should be better equipped; they should be better protected because they are also exposed to so much danger while they carry out their assignments, but that has not been done. The body language of the present regime is to the effect that they are going to get enormous support from the regime if they do their work and that is why they are doing what they are doing and that is why we think what they are doing is good.

Talking about body language, so many people have criticized President Buhari and his vice, Prof Yemi Osinbajo for failing to declare their assets publicly. Is that not a direct departure from their anti-corruption posture?         

Well, we are one of those critics. Our criticism of Buhari regime is that he entered a covenant with us that within the first hundred days, he would do it. Granted that the end of the first hundred days has not come, but we believe that he could have started on the right tooting by ensuring that the Assets Declaration Form which he filled got to the press even before it got to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). No law would have been violated by so doing. Now, if they don’t have anything to hide, they ought to have done it. If they now make it public there, the credibility that would have been achieved is no longer there because they have assumed power and they have assumed influence that could overwhelm even the CCB to play things down. If they had done it immediately they were sworn-in, it would have been more acceptable. But largely, the subsequent actions have been okay.

Source: Daily Independent.

Fashola: We’re ready to wrestle with pigs for accountability —CACOL leader

     The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) recently wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari warning him not to elevate the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola. CACOL’s Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran, speaks with MOSES ALAO, on why the group is on the trail of the former governor and the need for accountability in Nigeria’s body-politic. Excerpts:

RECENTLY, the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, accused your organisation of writing a preemptive letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, raising allegations that have not been proven. Why did CACOL write a letter that appears to be targeted at stopping Fashola from being appointed into Buhari’s cabinet at this point?

You are wrong. The effort to get Mr Babatunde Fashola to be accountable started in 2009.

But the fact that you wrote that letter to the president now is suspect. Why is CACOL on Fashola’s trail at a point that he is likely to be appointed by the president? How many other likely appointees did you write to Buhari about?

We cannot work on everybody. There are certain things that have obvious answers. It is only those that we know that we can work on. When you talk about why we are on Fashola’s trail, you just need to look at the need to hold our leaders accountable. CACOL is not being sponsored by the state; it is our members that contribute the funds that we utilise to do the little that we can do; so we only take one step at a time.

We are in Lagos and we are witnesses to the budgetary presentations year in year out, which can be put at an average of N500 billion yearly. We know that international organisations like UNESCO, WHO and World Bank, among others, contributed to some of the projects that are supposed to have been executed in Lagos, especially in the areas of provision of water, drainage system and aesthetic, that is citing of ornamental plants and so on were also done with contributions from corporate organisations, which are in abundance in Lagos. So, when we pieced all of these together, we discovered that more than N5 trillion could have been budgeted for and expended in Lagos in the past eight years by the government headed by Mr Fashola. We moved round Lagos and we discovered that there were no adequate signs that such amount of money was properly utilised. We suspected that as early as 2009. By February 2010, we wrote the first petition, after we had been frustrated, having tried in vain to see everyone that needed to be seen for explanation. We wrote that petition to the Lagos State House of Assembly and we submitted it in a public protest that was covered by the mass media. The House set up a panel to investigate the claims in the petition, but the state government went to court by proxy, using Richard Akinnola; the late Bamidele Aturu was his lawyer. They succeeded in getting an injunction restraining the House from proceeding with the investigation. If a governor does not have anything to hide, why is it difficult for him to allow an investigation by an arm of the same government and just present his side of the story?

Remember also that a group called the True Face of Lagos came up with damning allegations about the financial recklessness of the Fashola’s administration. But he didn’t defend himself or state his own side of the story; he only said the group was faceless. It got to a stage that we went round all the locations that the True Face of Lagos mentioned and we decided to give a face to what they did; so we adopted their petition and sent it to the governor to give us their response, but they did not respond.

Can you remember when you sent that petition?

That was in 2010 but we didn’t get anything. Out of frustration, we wrote to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the commission claimed that it had got our petition and that it invited some directors and other top officials. The commission claimed it got a detailed report, which it would not release to us because Fashola had immunity. Out of frustration, also, we went to town, called representatives of all the local governments together in a hall and we called in Lagos Open Parliament. Through that platform, we got reports from each local government about how the government was able to implement the appropriation law, how effective or otherwise it was. We administered questionnaires and the entries were recorded. We gave at least 2,000 questionnaires to each local government, retrieved the ones we could and analysed them. We monitored mass media and social media reportage of budget performance and we gathered that the implementation was far less than expected. We didn’t stop at that; we took photographs of areas where expectations of the people were not met and we put all our findings in a book. We also monitored the internet and we compiled these findings into a book we called ‘Lagos Open Parliament: A report of the underground assessment of the state of budgetary implementation on infrastructural development in Lagos State between May 2007 and May 2011.’ The book can be accessed on our website. It contains pictures, data, graphs, tables and so on. But after all of these, we thought that we could be wrong and so we sent copies to the government; but I must tell you that we had even sent manuscripts to the government before publishing the book, telling them that if they had any defence to make, they should do it. We started updating that book through the same process. We also kept on reminding the anti-corruption agencies every year but they didn’t give us the feedback we desired; we were waiting and complaining. We grumbled about why everyone should ignore us when we had presented how expectations of people were not met and no one explained why government was right and we had been wrong. After that frustration, we vowed that it would be protest without end.

But it is appearing as if CACOL just woke up at the prompting of some people to hunt Fashola.

That is not correct. If you could recall, before the last general elections, we had a public demonstration, warning the Lagos public not to vote for Mr Akinwumi Ambode, because he was coming from the same stock with Fashola. It was also at that time that we asked former Governor Bola Tinubu to come out in the open and defend all the allegations against him in the documentary aired on AIT. We told him that rather than go to court to stop the documentary, he should defend himself in the open on allegations the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) levelled against him, because the court has always been deployed as a tool to keep others quiet about issues. Unfortunately, we didn’t get anything out of those efforts.

So, when elections came and went, we knew that President Buhari, whose election we supported because of his pedigree, antecedent, personality and integrity he exudes, would be able to fight corruption. But when we saw this gentleman, Fashola, dancing around the president, following him everywhere and fraternising with him, we suspected that he could have been lobbying the president for a post and we knew that would be dangerous for Nigerians’ collective wellbeing.

Why did you think so?

You would recall that Lagos State was a theatre of activism during the clamour for the Freedom of Information Act. But we wrote to the Lagos State government back then, asking them to give us all the information we needed regarding the corruption allegations based on FOI Act and the state that was governed by Fashola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), replied us through its Ministry of Justice that the FOI law passed by the order of the National Assembly was not applicable to Lagos. We were taken aback then and that was why we said if Fashola had his way to the federal level, he would discourage the federal government from engaging in pro-people governance. He is not likely to allow transparency, accountability and probity. He might even work towards the repealing of the FOI Act. So, it was on that basis that we had to write Buhari that instead of elevating Fashola, he should get him investigated and possibly prosecuted. That was the basis of our letter.

But Fashola made a reference to some pigs somewhere who he would not like to wrestle with. Is CACOL sponsored by some anti-Fashola elements to stop him from being appointed into office?

Look at it from this angle, if you want pork, won’t you wrestle with a pig and make sure it dies? CACOL wants a piece of pork and that pork is to make our leaders remember that they are accountable to the people, who are the owners of the sovereignty. That is what we are doing and we are going to wrestle this pig into submission and we will not allow the pig to go into our barn, because it will destroy everything it finds there.

I want to tell you that if we had been sponsored since 2009, we would have been able to fight him more frontally than we are doing. He would not have been able to cover his tracks. It is because we had no access to government shelves that we have not been able to compel the anti-graft agencies to prosecute him. If we were sponsored, we would have been able to mobilise Lagosians and we would have been able to buy media spaces to make our points. As I am speaking with you, CACOL is not sponsored by anyone; we do not have money, but we have intellect; we have the know-how; we have the spirit of activism, patriotism and progressivism and these are driving us. We believe that someone must stand for what is right. That is what obtains in Nigeria, whenever anyone says anything against a top personality, such person will be accused of being sponsored.

The former governor said the allegations against him could not be substantiated, that you have no evidence.

It took us five years to get facts and reports that we have published and he has failed to ever respond to. So what is the evidence that we are being sponsored? Fashola said we did not have any evidence, when every top civil servant in government had been sworn to secrecy not provide any evidence. The only statute we could use to compel the MDAs to give evidence had been made ineffective in Lagos and what we did was to go into the fields and question how contracts were awarded and executed even when the facilities were nowhere to be found.

But he said his job was done, having served the state for 12 years.

Which job was done? Is it roads? Is it schools? Is it hospitals that we will talk about? There is nothing that is not in a bad state in Lagos; there is always flood anytime there is a heavy rain; the drainage system is too shallow. Fashola started building on the lagoon, go and look at what they are doing at Ilubirin and what they call the Atlantic City. Is that what Lagos needs? Why is the money spent on the cable bridge in Ikoyi not utilised on an expressway that will run from Ikorodu to Epe and back to Lekki so that people could move freely, because that is the axis where people who only depend on their ingenuity to earn a tuning for themselves are. But their roads are bad; there is no security in Lagos. Security of lives and properties is in a shambles. So, what can we not talk about? If anyone says someone is sponsoring CACOL, we are happy that we are being sponsored to do what is right; but I can tell you that we are only being sponsored by our members who contribute what they have towards emancipating people from physical and moral enslavement they were subjected to by the administration of Fashola and we are not going to stop at anything but to achieve freedom for them.

Finally, do you subscribe to the claim in some quarters that the current fight against corruption is selective?

There is no way the corrupt elements will not complain that the anti-graft agencies’ war is selective; even when you publish a story, they will accuse you. How come you won’t select? Once it is only those who perpetrated corruption that are being selected, we are happy with that. If it is only those corrupt elements on whom we have adequate evidence and witnesses that are being selected, Nigerians will be happy with that. Inasmuch as no innocent person can come out to claim that he is being wrongly prosecuted, you cannot prevent elements that are drowning from clutching to any available means, even straws, in order to discredit any effort towards bringing them to justice. Everyone who has perpetrated corruption must rot in jail. Unless we all put our acts together to kill corruption, corruption will kill us. We should not allow corruption to kill us. We should banish corruption.

Source: Sunday Tribune.

Special courts needed for corruption cases –CACOL

Buhari to set up special courts for looters

Sunday 23rd August , 2015 10:30 am

Buhari

 

The Federal Government has begun moves to establish special courts to try corruption-related cases as part of the efforts to fight graft in the country.Saturday PUNCH’s investigations on Friday revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari was opting for a comprehensive onslaught against the problem of corruption in the country.

It was learnt that the President had concluded plans to submit a bill on the planned special anti-corruption courts to the National Assembly.

The PUNCH had on Monday exclusively reported that the Presidency had commenced the process of identifying fearless judges that would be saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting corrupt persons.

It was also gathered that the Federal Government was planning to establish 37 of the Special Courts to try corruption in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and the 36 states of the Federation.

A top operative of one of the anti-graft agencies, who confided in one of our correspondents, said that the Federal Government decided to set up the planned special courts because of the long delay by regular courts in deciding corruption-related cases.

It was further gathered that the President recently made a demand for 36 judges with the requisite integrity and boldness to decide cases in line with the law and not according to influence of the people or the pecuniary gains that come with associating with them.

The anti-graft officer said, “The President is being careful; he does not want people to do a wishy-washy job for him.

“Buhari is pressing for the establishment of special courts to try corruption cases. He wants the courts to be established in Abuja and the 36 states of the federation so that they can fast-track such cases.”

Investigations further revealed that the Federal Government had contacted the National Judicial Council to provide judges with impeccable reputation to preside over the planned courts.

It was gathered that the NJC released the names of 100 judges from the 36 states of the federation to the leadership of three major anti-corruption bodies in the country after an internal process of selection.

The judges were screened by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission and the Department of State Security on Tuesday.

It was gathered that the focus of the on-going screening exercise is to identify judges with a passion for the law and the constitution rather than deference to personalities.

The officer stated, “On Tuesday, the NJC forwarded the list of 100 judges to the anti-corruption agencies for screening. The exercise is meant to select the judges for the special courts the President is moving to establish to try corruption cases.

“The plan is to get judges that are bold, courageous, and fearless. Many of them must have delivered sound judgements (in the past). They don’t want those who play to the gallery.

“The screening exercise is very intensive; they are passing through the NJC that has the list of all the judges. When the NJC is through with its screening, it passes the list of the judges to security operatives and the anti-graft agencies to continue with the investigation.

“And because this is a democracy, they have to go through acceptable legal channels; they have to amend the constitution to set up these courts. They want to start with speed; even the legislatures have to be involved to amend the constitution.”It was also learnt that the anti-graft agencies screened the judges by doing background checks on them, particularly looking at their history at the bench.

The source said, “We are working on the information we got about them (the judges). There are those who have been compromised in the past, who will not be part of the arrangement.”

But the anti-corruption agencies are not saying much about the on-going screening exercise, which is said to have entered its second phase.

When our correspondent contacted the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on the telephone on Friday, he said that he was not aware of it.

“I am not aware of the exercise you are talking about,” he said.

Similarly, the Resident Consultant, Media and events of the ICPC, Mr. Folu Olamiti, said that he could not comment on the story, when contacted.

“I can’t comment on it,” he said.

Also, the Acting Director, Information, National Judicial Council, Mr. Soji Oye, said he was not aware of any plan to create special corruption courts.

It will be recalled that the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, had in 2012, when he was being screened by the Senate, called for the establishment of special courts for corruption cases.

He had said, “The reason for the clamour for special courts for certain cases has to do with the processes of law. Judges have corrupt cases and other cases to attend to, but if we have special courts for corruption cases, it would facilitate the process. I don’t think it will be too much to ask that a special court be dedicated to corruption cases.”

Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, and Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran, described the plan to create special courts to handle corruption cases as a welcome development.

But a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joseph Nwobike, described the establishment of such courts as needless.

Keyamo, however, urged the government to put certain resources and laws in place for such special courts to achieve their intended goals.

He said, “Establishment of special courts will not solve the entire problem of anti-corruption cases and it will not solve all the problems of criminal cases. But it will go a long way if the courts are well equipped and have rules that will help fast track such cases.

“Special courts will not address the integrity of judges that will be sitting there. It is a welcome development and government should go ahead to establish them but some things should be put in place for the courts to achieve the intended goals.”

Adeniran also described the establishment of special corruption courts as desirable. He said such courts would help in quick determination of corruption cases.

He said, “It is desirable to the extent that it will hasten up the adjudication on corruption cases and will make it easier for the judges to handle.”

But Nwobike said that instead of creating special courts, government should focus on capacity building to enhance the competence of investigators and prosecutors.

He said, “It is needless. It will amount to waste of judicial resources to set up special courts to try corruption cases.”

Source:Citifmonline

Fashola spent N139m on two boreholes – LASG

   

Mr. Babatunde Fashola

The immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, spent N139m on the drilling of two boreholes at the Lagos House, Ikeja.

The project was completed by Deux Projects Limited according to a report published by the state government

The report, which was part of the awarded contracts by the Lagos State Tenders Board in 2013, was seen on the website of the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency.

In the same year, N640m was spent by the Fashola administration for the reconstruction of a car park and other associated works at the Lagos House, Marina. The report stated that the N640m contract was given to Julius Berger Plc as part of phase two of the reconstruction of Lagos House where Fashola lived during his eight years in government.In the same year, N300m was spent on the relocation of cables belonging to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. The contract was awarded to Deux Projects Limited.

According to the report, the former governor also spent N175m to replace the railings of a pedestrian bridge on Carter Bridge from Ido to Idumota with concrete railings. The contract was awarded to A Abicon Engineering Limited.

According to the report, N220m was spent on the facility management of the Lagos State University College of Medicine. The contract was awarded to Deux Projects Limited.

The former governor, according to the report, spent N619m on surface repair on Ajara-Erekiti-Iragon-Ikoga Road in Badagry Local Government.

According to the report, Fashola spent N1.2bn on the construction of an unidentified multi-storey building in Onikan, Lagos.

The former governor was also said to have spent N1.6bn on the construction of a 48-bedroom hotel at Lagos State VIP Chalets, Badagry.

About N510m was spent on the remodelling and equipping of the official residence of the state’s Chief Judge at 4 Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos, according to the report.

About N165m was spent on the construction of an 18-classroom block at Ajara Senior Grammar School, Ajara Badagry. The same amount was also spent on an 18-block classroom at Community Senior/Junior Secondary School, Bayeku, Ikorodu.

Fashola had recently come under fire for spending N78.3m of taxpayers’ money on his website, tundefashola.com.

Although the figures were published on the official website of the state government, the former governor said all the monies were duly approved by the Lagos State House of Assembly and the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency.

Fashola, in a six-page letter, stated that the website of the state government was authentic.

He, however, warned against attempt by some persons to tarnish his good image and misrepresent his budgetary spending to the members of the public.

All attempts to speak with Fashola’s spokesperson, Hakeem Bello, proved abortive as he did not pick calls neither did he respond to a text message sent to his telephone.

Source: The Punch.

Groups, Presidency disagree on N5tn looted under Jonathan

Civil rights groups and the Congress for Progressive Change on Monday took a swipe at President Goodluck Jonathan over the rising level of corruption in his administration.

The groups, comprising the Voters Assembly and Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, stated this while reacting to a story published by Sunday PUNCH.

Sunday PUNCH had reported that N5tn had been stolen from government coffers since Jonathan assumed office on May 6, 2010.

The President of VA and former Chairman of Transition Monitoring Group, Mr. Moshood Erubami, accused the Federal Government of lacking the courage to prosecute and jail those who have over the years robbed Nigeria blind.

He explained that the challenge was no longer the amount involved but how to get the money back to repair critical infrastructure for the benefit of Nigerians.

Erubami said, “This has been difficult because the thieves are affiliated to the political office-holders who themselves have benefited from the fraud alliance.

“Above all, government lacks courage to prosecute their fraudster friends and jail them appropriately.

“The question of N5tn is an understatement. If you add up all stolen funds from 1999 to date without going back to the military era, you will be surprised at the quantum of money Nigeria has lost.”

Berating the Federal Government, the CPC National Publicity Secretary, Rotimi Fasakin,  said the party was not surprised that N5tn was fleeced from the public till under Jonathan’s watch, attributing this to what he called  “the impecunious state” of the nation and what it may be by 2015.

He said, “In CPC, we have always maintained that this is the most corrupt, most incompetent and most unpatriotic administration in Nigeria’s chequered history.”

Executive Director of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the best option left was to fire corrupt ministers in government.

He cited Halliburton and Siemens cases as examples of such cases that had been muddled up by government officials.

He said, “The amount lost to official fraudsters would have been in excess of N5tn but for covers provided by the state. The President himself has shown his tolerance for corruption by providing shields for ministers and other cabinet members under whom monumental corruption has been recorded.

“The FG can only help recover some of the stolen funds if the indicted officials, no matter how powerful or influential, are adequately punished.”

Also, a United States based activist, Smart Jaja, said the Umaru Yar’Adua administration of which Jonathan was an actor by virtue of his position as vice-president, was a product of a monumental fraud.

But the Presidency on Monday said it was a mere mischief for any individual or group to accuse the Jonathan-led administration of condoning corruption.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, made the Presidency’s position known in an interview with our correspondent.

Abati said it was not true that the President was treating corruption with kid gloves.

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