Tuesday, October 6, 2015 10:13 am
The Lagos State House of Assembly has said it would not disqualify nominees of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode currently being screened by the House as commissioners and special advisers.
Chairman of the 15-man screening committee and Deputy Speaker of the House, Wasiu Eshilokun-Sanni, stated this in the light of petitions being received against some of the 37 nominees including Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, who was allegedly expelled from the Ikoyi Club for fraud.
The ad-hoc committee commenced the screening Monday with a mandate to adequately screen the nominees with some set guidelines, but Eshilokun-Sanni said the committee would give the nominees the opportunity to defend themselves.
The Deputy Speaker described the House as a responsive and responsible institution that would not just automatically disqualify nominees based on the petitions.
“Any petition against any of the nominees will not amount to automatic disqualification. We will confront them with such petitions and allow them to respond.
“What I’m principally saying is that we will give the nominees fair hearing and then the House will come up with an appropriate decision,” he said.
A resident of the state and member of the Ikoyi Club, Oladele Benson, had petitioned the House arguing that Dr. Onanuga is not worthy of being in the cabinet because he was expelled for misappropriation of funds.
Benson had said in the petition: “he (Onanuga) was then the vice-chairman of the club and I was the chairman of the Billiards and Snooker section of the club. As a result of diverse investigation into financial/ administrative activities in Ikoyi Club 1938, Dr Olufemi Onaniga had to face disciplinary panel in the club, which led to his expulsion from the club.
“I Chief Oladele Abiodun Benson, Nigerian citizen, indigene of Lagos State and a member of Ikoyi Club 1938, hereby formally lodge my objection to the nomination and or approval by the Assembly of Dr Olufemi Onanuga to serve as a commissioner/ special adviser in the Executive of my dear state, Lagos.
“In light of the findings, recommendations and decisions against Dr Olufemi Onanuga in the report touching on financial/ administrative activities in the club which are grave indictments against him leading to his expulsion from the club, I hold the view that Dr Olufemi Onanuga is not a fit and proper person to be entrusted with a position of authority in the administration of this state of ours and I object to his approval as a commissioner/ special adviser by your Honorable House.”
Those screened by the committee on Monday included Lola Akande, Ademola Abass, Adeniji Kazeem, Benson Akintola Oke, Kehinde Bamigbetan, Stev Ayorinde, Ganiyu Johnson, Seye Oladejo and Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Good Governance Coalition led by Comrade M. M. Adebayo, Coordinator, and Comrade T. Raheem, Secretary respectively, has asked the House to disqualify nominees who have questions to answer.
In a letter to Speaker Mudashiru Obasa and dated 5 October, 2015, the group said nominees previously indicted should not be screened.
“It behoves on the honourable House to exercise the highest level of discretion, caution, and transparency in the process of screening and approving those to become commissioners in the state under the current administration in order to avoid approving anyone with proven corruption or indicted for corruption, fraud, and allied criminality.
“It has become public knowledge that at least one individual on the list of those being considered for the post of commissioners sent to the honourable House, one Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, was indicted for fraud by an organization to which he once belonged, Ikoyi Club 1938, and
consequently expelled from the club.
“It would be a major disservice to the current anti-corruption posture of the APC government for someone who had been indicted by the disciplinary committee of a body to which he once belonged to be cleared to occupy a public office in Lagos State as a commissioner.
“If Dr. Onanuga couldn’t be trusted to manage the affairs of a club with a relatively smaller financial base, how can he be entrusted with a state institution with far higher financial resources? This is not only dangerous, but also injurious to the interests of the Lagos State
and her people,” the group said.