If one should go by the prevailing substantive allegations of official misconduct about Mudashiru Obasa, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, his predecessor, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, would be a saint. That notwithstanding, just like his predecessor, Obasa does not care about other people; he only cares about himself. He displays this wanton attitude by spending billions of naira every year to get whatever he likes. Although saddening, it is true that when people who are saddled with the responsibility of enacting laws are found wanting in discipline, they help to validate the saying by Tacitus: “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”
In the last few weeks, SaharaReporters has produced revelations sufficient enough to force Obasa to step aside until he is cleared of all allegations of financial misappropriation and money laundering levelled against him by a committee of the Lagos State Assembly or the EFCC. I have waited to read, hear or watch a broadcast of any tangible justification or vehement rebuttal from his office to counter the incessant exposé from the SaharaReporters stable but none has come. All I can perceive is a subtle ‘guilty as accused’ disposition towards all the allegations.
Obasa’s predecessor, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, faced trial before a Lagos division of the Federal High Court for allegedly laundering over N338.8m. He was charged alongside his former personal assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi, and both of them were later arraigned on March 1, 2012 before Justice Okechukwu Okeke on a 20-count charge bordering on financial misappropriation and money laundering. With these 'Kompromat' against Obasa, it is safe to say that money laundering is becoming the norm for the biggest state assembly in Nigeria. I am using the Russian word 'Kompromat' here since we don’t have a law court or anti-graft agency confirming any of these allegations.
A letter dated March 19, 2018 which was posted online by SaharaReporters stated that the EFCC was investigating the Speaker for abuse of office. Therein, the EFCC mentioned two bank account owned by Obasa, used for carrying-out his corrupt activities. Part of the letter reads: 'The commission is investigating a case involving the above mentioned name, during the course of investigation, several lodgements from the Lagos State House of Assembly into the same accounts were found. In view of this, you are expected to furnish the commission with the following: the details of all lodgements into these accounts from LAHA from January, 2015 to date.'
In rapid succession—back-to-back—SaharaReporters has exposed the corrupt practices by the Lagos State Speaker who used different companies registered under different names to siphon public funds from Lagos State. Also revealed, was how he, Obasa, allegedly approved the sum of N258m for the printing of invitation cards to the inauguration of lawmakers, two months after the event had been held; and how he illegally collected N45m for a Christmas party that never took place, among many others.
In the second week, there came a bang: ‘SaharaReporters has uncovered how Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, tricked former governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode, to collect the sum of N350m.’ Another one came just few days later: ‘Lagos Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, gets N17m monthly for Maintenance of Personal Residence, Guest House.’ We kept reading new revelations, and the latest rolled in like a grenade: ‘EXPOSED: 64 Bank Accounts Linked to BVN of Lagos Assembly Speaker, Obasa’. In the said article, all the bank/account names and account numbers were revealed. This put to rest all aspersions from his supporters that the allegations were mere ‘guess work’.
Unfortunately, Obasa’s investigation handlers seem to be docile. They seem to act in affirmation of these reports. Their lackadaisical attitude proves that they lack the courage to state the Speaker’s side of the story. Moreover, Obasa’s silent demeanour gives a nod to these allegations. From the look of things, I don’t think any of these will end anytime soon, considering the pace at which ‘‘SaharaReporters' album is dropping’’. One would think that they are smart enough to read the writing on the wall. But they are not. Unofficial transactions and deals from 2018 are springing up like mushrooms in 2020. And he is still chanting ‘Obasa 1, Agege 1’. What a shame!
It will be a tragedy for President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, if a prominent member of his party is immune from his anti-corruption crusade, even with a pending case of financial misconduct – as stated in EFCC’s letter of March 19, 2018. These revelations are far beyond the struggle for the control of the state assembly. It is nothing but sheer indiscipline laced with covetousness.
Rt Hon Obasa, a graduate of law from Lagos State University, has yet to say anything commonsensical in response to these allegations, leaving Lagosians in a state of tremendous shock, week after week, over these astonishing revelations. Without intending to mince matters, the Honourable Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly should, as a matter of urgency and dignity, resign his speakership, pending when he is able to provide sufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he is not guilty, but innocent of all charges. Quod erat demonstrandum!