by Ben Ezeamalu
The Civil Society Network Against Corruption, a coalition of anti-corruption organisations in Nigeria, has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the “questionable expenditures” of the administration of Babatunde Fashola, the immediate past governor of Lagos State.
In a petition dated August 10 and addressed to the EFCC Chairman, the group called for the probe of the controversial N78 million spent on the personal website of Mr. Fashola
There was outrage last weekend after analytic firm, BudgIT, revealed that Mr. Fashola approved, before he left office, N78.3 million from the state’s treasury for an upgrade of his personal website.
The contract for the refurbishment of the website was awarded to Info Access Plus Limited by the office of the Chief of Staff to the former governor.
The company, however, denied receiving the amount, insisting that it was paid N10 million.
Other ‘questionable expenditures’
In addition to the amount purportedly spent on the website upgrade, CSNAC also urged the anti-graft agency to probe the N1.2 billion spent on the construction of pedestrian bridges along Eti-Osa – Lekki – Epe expressway “which did not specify the number of bridges.”
Other areas of possible probe include the N17 million awarded for the provision of wall signage in three magistrate courts; N3.46 billion spent for the construction of a beach resort in Ilase; and N61 million disbursed for a Range Rover SUV and two Toyota Hilux trucks as the official vehicle of Chief Judge of State.
The group also want the EFCC to probe Mr. Fashola’s spending of N85 million for the repair and replacement of street signs; N330 million spent on the development of the residence of Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the immediate past deputy governor; and N94 million spent on printer consumables.
CSNAC petition came following a similar outcry by another anti-corruption group, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders.
Debo Adeniran, CACOL’s Executive Director, had stated in an interview recently that his organisation’s independent investigation showed that the 1.36 kilometre Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge cost N6 billion, and not the N25 billion stated by Mr. Fashola’s administration.
Mr. Adeniran also stated that several petitions written to the EFCC to probe the various projects in the state in the face of the more than N500 billion debt left by Mr. Fashola’s government was ignored.
Another organisation, the Socio-Economic Rights Accountability Project, had also alleged that the state refused to disclose details of the US$200 million World Bank education fund during Mr. Fashola’s tenure.
“CSNAC is hereby requesting that these allegations against the former governor of Lagos State be thoroughly investigated and the falsity or verity proven,” said Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman, CSNAC.
“We would like to believe that this petition would be given utmost attention as speculations in the media and among the general public is that members of the governing party currently enjoy special consideration and therefore not investigated by the anti-corruption agencies.
“This perception, if allowed to fester, will be detrimental and dangerous to the spirit of the new wave in fight against corruption led by the current administration.”