The Clerk, Oyo State House of Assembly, Mrs Yetunde Awe, her predecessor Ms Felicia Oyediran and four other officials of the Assembly were on Monday interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over their role in the award and payment for a vehicle contract.
They were questioned at the Ibadan zonal office of the commission over a contract for the supply of 33 brand new Toyota Camry cars for the state lawmakers and two other jobs totaling over N1 billion. Others are the renovation of the Speaker’s official residence and establishment and supply of digital equipment for media office of the Assembly.
According to a source, the commission picked most of them up at their offices. The directors were being particularly grilled on their role in the disbursement of about N300 million in cash for the executed jobs.
The Deputy Clerk, Mrs Taiwo Muraina-Akinola, and the Director of Administration and Supplies (DAS), Mr Kayode Kolawole, had earlier been invited and interrogated last week.
But the formr clerk, Oyediran, some directors and the paymaster, Mr Adebowale Adeoye, were also taken to the commission to answer questions on Monday. Oyediran retired from service earlier this year but the jobs were undertaken during her tenure as clerk.
The interrogation followed a petition by an Abuja-based lawyer and anti-corruption crusader, Tosin Ojaomo, alleging that the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, connived with top civil servants to defraud the state the sum of N1,031,380,000, over a contract to supply 33 brand new vehicles for the state lawmakers.
Ojaomo alleged that Ogundoyin; his deputy, Hon. Abiodun Fadeyi; the Director General, Bureau of Public Procurement, Ms Tara Adefope; DAS, Mrs S. K. Kolawole; Director of Finance and Accounts, Mrs B. O. Ogundipe; TM Portman Nig Ltd and others conspired to award the contract to TM Portman Ltd, which supplied refurbished cars instead of brand new ones. The contract was for 33 brand new Toyota Camry 2019 model cars.
The lawyer explained that Ogundoyin and the alleged conspirators fraudulently arranged the contract to favour the above company. He said the company erased the mileage of each car to present them as brand new but that the fraud was exposed when the vehicles started developing mechanical faults few days after they were supplied.
The petition read in part: “…my findings reveals a flagrant violation of procurement laws and several fraudulent practices relating to gratification in contract awards and favourtism at the Oyo State House of Assembly which can be likened to an entrenched system of prebendalism and patrimonialism, the underhand contract fraud being perpetrated to siphon and drain the treasury of Oyo State House of Assembly is a call for serious concern and investigation to safeguard public interest…”
Ojaomo also alleged that the Speaker and his alleged accomplices inflated contract for the renovation of the Speaker’s official residence to N22,809,003.81, saying: “The rest of the funds was diverted and shared with some government officials and their accomplices.”
The lawyer also pointed out that the same company was awarded the contract for the setting up of a website and supply of ICT equipment to the Assembly. He urged the commission to trace payments for the contract and determine how much went into the pockets of public officials in form of gratification out of the sum paid.
Reacting to the development, Ogundoyin said he was available for interrogation over his role in the contract. In a a statement on Monday, thr Speaket said that the Assembly under his leadership has nothing to hide, pointing out that the anti-graft agency was only doing its job.
He said: ” It was true that the EFCC invited the Clerk but her Deputy stood in for her , the Director of Administration and Supplies and the Director of Finance and Accounts last Week Thursday and they responded accordingly. To me, this is in continuation of their investigation on the petition. We are fully cooperating with the Anti-graft Agency and we will never hinder, disturb nor undermine the work of the commission. The 9th Oyo Assembly passed the Anti-graft Agency Bill and this led to the Agency being domiciled in the state.
“I am ready to visit the EFCC if invited. As the Speaker, I will surely answer any question relating to the contract. We followed due process in the purchase of the vehicles in line with the laid down procedures. We have since taken the petition in good faith. The petition is a strength to democracy. It is not strange to us as democrats who take transparency and accountability as our watchwords. We were transparent and we will continue to be.”
According to him, quotations were received from three companies for the supply of the vehicles and the most satisfying amongst them was awarded the contract.
He stressed that the House will remain focused, undaunted and undistracted despite what he described as smear campaign allegedly by “some paid elements within and outside the House of Assembly.”
“Let me say that among the Houses of Assembly in Nigeria, Oyo State House of Assembly spent the lowest amount on purchasing cars for its members despite our large number. The vehicles supplied were of good quality and they are being enjoyed by our lawmakers. This whole thing is giving me more drive and will. We will not relent until our people enjoy good government. At the House, we will make more laws that will have more direct impact on the people of the state,” Ogundoyin added.