The Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Lagos State under former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Mr Olusegun Banjo, has said that he did not receive any invitation from the state House of Assembly.
The PUNCH reported on Friday that the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, had asked the Clerk of the House, Mr Azeez Sanni, to invite the former governor and former commissioners involved in the purchase of 820 vehicles during Ambode’s administration.
This followed two preliminary reports presented by two different ad hoc committees set up by the House to investigate the purchase of the buses and to appraise the 2019 mid-year budget.
Presenting the preliminary report of a nine-man ad hoc committee to probe the 820 buses purchased by the former governor, chairman of the committee, Fatai Mojeed, said it was discovered that due process was not followed in the purchase of the buses.
The Speaker therefore directed that if they refuse to honour the invitation, the Assembly would advertise on newspapers, after which it would issue warrants for their arrest.
But, in a statement on Friday, Banjo said he was ready to respond and give account of his stewardship as a commissioner, adding that the reported invitation came to him as a surprise.
He said, “I refer to page 9 of the Punch Newspaper of October 11, 2019 and other media publications, on the threat by the Lagos State House of Assembly to effect the arrest of the former governor and four former commissioners that served with him.
“This was on the ground that they refused to honour the invitation of the House to appear before its committee probing the purchase of 820 buses during the tenure of the (Ambode) administration. As the commissioner in charge of budget at the time, this publication of the proceedings of the state House of Assembly came as a surprise.
“At no time was any invitation extended to me to appear before any committee of the House.”
“I would gladly have responded to any invitation addressed to me by the House or any anti-corruption group looking into the matter or any matter concerning the period of my service,” Banjo said.
He explained that on seeing the publication, he called the Clerk of the House, who informed him that the invitation was sent to his former ministry.
He said that he asked the clerk why no one called to inform him before going to the press, as their telephone numbers and email addresses were public document.
According to him, the clerk apologised and requested for his residential address, which he sent to him immediately.
The News Agency of Nigeria quoted Banjo as saying, “I wish to correct the insinuation in the publications that I deliberately avoided the House of Assembly. I also want to state my readiness to appear before any of its (House) committees as this is the least required of me as a citizen of Lagos State and someone who has occupied public position in the past.
“I agree completely with the stance of the House for probity and accountability for those that held public offices in all arms of government.”