The Coalition of Public Interests Lawyers and Advocates has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to probe allegations of financial impropriety and grand corruption against Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa.
SaharaReporters has in a series of reports revealed how Obasa and his allies in the House appropriated public funds to personal accounts illegally.
COPA in a statement on Sunday signed by its National Coordinator, Pelumi Olajengbesi, and Chairman Anti-corruption Network, Patrick Odey, said the EFCC must live up to its responsibility of probing allegations of corruption against public servants without being reminded.
The statement reads, "It is a gross understatement to proceed with the reminder that the EFCC, an anti-graft institution, is statutorily bound to investigate and cause a prosecution into all and any action involving public stealing, looting, and or other financial crimes especially amongst public officers who hold in equity the keys to the vault of the commonwealth of our society and we hereby demand that EFCC should leave up to its foundation objectives.
"One Rt. Hon. Mudashiru A. Obasa, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, has in recent weeks come under intense public scrutiny and opprobrium over severe allegations of the abuse of his office to loot the treasury of Lagos State dry, and some of this allegations are reproduced hereunder for immediate action by the EFCC.
"That Hon. Obasa approved the sum of N258m (N258, 000 000.00) for the printing of invitation cards for the inauguration of lawmakers two months after the event had been held in a document titled “Celebrations and Ceremonies" (LSHA/LM/C/276), and dated August 7, 2019 for the inauguration of the Ninth Assembly with 34 returning members and six new members, which held on June 7, 2019.
"That Hon. Obasa allegedly fraudulently approved for himself the sum of N17m (N17, 000 000.00) as monthly maintenance allowance for his personal residence and guest house, while also exploiting his position as Speaker of the House of Assembly Lagos State to cause the sum of N10m (N10, 000 000.00) to be paid to his wife on a fictitious initiative.
"That the sum of N58m (N58, 000 000.00) was also allegedly cleverly misappropriated by Hon. Obasa from the Lagos State coffers to fund a private trip and spree to the United States of America with his mistress.
"Sub-paragraphs 1-3 above detail gross criminal allegations which call for the most urgent attention by Nigeria’s go-to anti-graft agency, the EFCC whose foot-dragging or reluctance to act may very well defeat the purpose of its creation, and further reward a highly suspect case of theft of public resources while casting aspersions on the integrity of the agency.
"There are fears in the public space since the unfolding revelations into Obasagate, so termed, that his affiliation to state and federal powers, particularly his membership of the ruling party, may tilt events in his favour as such persons are habitually conceived as sacred cows beyond the punitive reach of the law.
"COPA would like to borrow its confidence to EFCC to treat as urgent and with no considerations for the person involved, the allegations which has been levelled against Hon. Obasa as it borders on betrayal of public confidence, abuse of official power, outright corruption and the embezzlement of public fund for private use. Such allegations strongly question the morality and integrity of the Lagos State Speaker and only a thorough investigation and perhaps a prosecution on available facts can fairly provide him with the opportunity to clear his name if possible."
COPA said the EFCC must arrest Obasa and probe the allegations, failure of which will force the group to take legal action against the anti-graft agency.
"We demand the immediate arrest, investigation and consequent prosecution of Hon. Obasa, Lagos State Assembly Speaker, for gross misconduct in office, economic crime, fraud and extortion of state resources.
“No stones must be left unturned as only a thorough and impartial investigation into the dawning allegations against the Speaker whose dishonourable actions may have further impoverished the state and starved other areas of government interventions of fund can acquit this agency and satisfy public outcry for justice.
"Take notice that if EFCC should fail to accede to our demand within a reasonable time we shall leverage on our reach with the civil society groups within and without, and exert all media and legal means to compel the Commission to discharge its statutory duty in respect of this demand."