The EFCC says some principal officers of the Assembly conspired among themselves to forge documents, steal and divert N700 million for their personal use.
Ogun State House of Assembly
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has accused the Ogun State House Assembly of engaging in forgery, money laundering, and falsification of financial records.
The commission said some principal officers of the Assembly divert public funds for use different from the purpose for which the funds were appropriated.
The EFCC stated this in its counter-affidavit filed in opposition to the interlocutory application by the House of Assembly.
In January 2022, the Assembly had in a suit marked FHC/AB/CS/7/2022 dragged the EFCC before a Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta.
The Assembly asked the court to restrain the agency from “inviting and interrogating” its members over the alleged financial fraud in the state legislature.
In the suit, the applicants comprise six lawmakers and two civil servants with the EFCC and the impeached Deputy Speaker of the House, Oludare Kadiri joined as first and second respondents respectively.
The House believes Oludare, who was impeached last year, is behind the petition the EFCC is acting upon.
However, in the court documents seen by this reporter, the EFCC alleged that some principal officers of the state assembly including the Speaker of the House, Hon. Olakunle Taiwo Oluomo conspired among themselves to forge documents, steal and divert N700 million for their personal use.
The anti-graft agency also accused the lawmakers of forging documents and falsifying financial records in order to retire or divert public funds for their personal use.
The EFCC said its preliminary investigation on the alleged financial misappropriation in the Assembly showed some discrepancies in some of the documents it received from Deji Taiwo Adeyemo, the Clerk of the state House of Assembly.
According to the EFCC, among the documents are receipts purportedly issued by Obasanjo Holdings Limited, the managers of the NNPC Mega Station at Moshood Abiola Way, Abeokuta.
The NNPC Mega Station located within the sprawling Obasanjo Presidential Library complex- owned by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo– Ogun State capital is believed to be the biggest and most profitable petrol station in Abeokuta.
In a letter dated January 24, 2022, and titled ‘Investigation Activities and Authentication of Documents’, the EFCC had asked the management of the fuel station to confirm if the receipts it received from the clerk of the House were issued by the company.
In its response to the EFCC’s request in a letter dated January 26, and signed by Dealer Manager, Ajibike Oluwaseun, the company said it did not issue such receipts.
The company in the letter further furnished the EFCC with copies of receipts it issued in 2018, 2019, and 2021.
The company’s reply to the EFCC reads in part: “We write to inform you that receipts being investigated were not issued by our filling station”.
The anti-graft agency also accused the House of forging receipts of another oil company in Abeokuta, Ashkash Nigeria Limited.
Again, in its response to the request by the anti-graft agency, the company in a letter signed by its Managing Director and dated January 27, 2022, said having checked its financial records, it does not know anything about the receipts the EFCC received from the Clerk.
The oil company wrote: “Sequel to your letter with Reference Number CR:3000/EFCC/CMU/OG/VOL.1/63 dated 24th January 2022. We have painstakingly and extensively gone through our records, nothing of such exists in our transaction records. By this, we did not know anything about the receipts sent for investigation.”
The commission also alleged that some other receipts and invoices used by the Ogun State House of Assembly to justify its disbursement of funds do not exist.
Why EFCC is investigating Ogun State House Assembly
In 2021, the EFCC began an investigation of the assembly for alleged financial misappropriation following a petition against the Assembly on misappropriation of funds.
The EFCC in a letter dated April 16, 2021, asked the Assembly to provide information on all budget appropriations and allocations of the House from May 30, 2015, till date.
After receiving documents relating to financial records of the Assembly, which are allegedly riddled with discrepancies, the EFCC said it opted to invite concerned members of the Assembly instead of “arresting them on the strength of its findings.’’
According to the EFCC, the lawmakers refused to honour its invitation.
In its bid to fight back, the state Assembly went to court to seek an injunction to stop the commission from inviting and questioning its members.
The assembly also accused the EFCC and the impeached Deputy Speakerof tarnishing the image of the House.
Kadiri who represents Ijebu North Constituency 2 at the assembly was impeached on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, over alleged acts of gross misconduct.
The lawmaker was also accused of insubordination, abuse of office, threat to lives and properties as well as an attempted murder committed in his constituency.
But Kadiri has debunked the allegations against him, saying he was impeached because he was asking questions about the finances of the house.
However, the EFCC has urged the court not to grant the Assembly’s interlocutory injunction, saying the application is a ploy by the lawmakers to impede its investigative activities.
The commission said the people of Ogun State and the federation of Nigeria would suffer irreparable damages if the application is granted.
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