Court stops Fashola’s probe by House

A Lagos High Court presided over by Hakeem Abiru, Babatunde Raji Fasholayesterday stopped the Lagos State House of Assembly from probing allegations of financial impropriety levelled against Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos State. Ahead of yesterday’s decision, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the Speaker of the House of Assembly pooh-poohed the judiciary last Tuesday saying the courts could not be used against the House. “We know what the outcome [of the case] will be. No one will stop us from doing what we think is right,” he stated, hinting at a preparedness to snub a possible court order. The suit, filed by human rights lawyer, Bamidele Aturu, on behalf of Richard Akinola, a journalist, wanted the six-man committee set up by the House of Assembly to probe allegations of corruption levelled against Mr. Fashola and members of the Assembly to dissolve itself for conflict of interest. “The probe is against the rule of natural justice. The advert that alleged the impropriety also accused the House of collecting 20 million naira each. To that extent, they cannot be in judgement in their own case,” Mr. Akinnola stated in an interview with NEXT. He argued that “the governor said he was going to reply to all the allegations. I expect something similar from the House. If after these explanations, they are not satisfied, the matter can be brought to the EFCC and ICPC for investigations.” In his ruling, Mr. Abiru stated: “An order of interim injunction is hereby made restraining the defendant, whether by themselves, agents, members, officers, privies or by whosoever, from proceeding with or acting on the purported investigation of allegations of financial impropriety levelled against the executive and legislative arms of Lagos State Government by a group published in the Punch newspaper of January 28, 2010 under the caption ‘The true face of Lagos’ or by any other group pending the determination of the suit.” Mr. Abiru justified the injunction saying “the affidavit of urgency when read along with the exhibits attached to the affidavits in support of the application, particularly the proceedings of the House of Assembly, attached to the further affidavit on the time frame given to the committee in question to act reveal that there is a real urgency warranting the grant of the interim order sought by the claimant.” House keeps mum Chairman of the probe panel, Razak Balogun, in a telephone interview, said “I have not been served and therefore cannot say anything now.” Mr. Balogun however, declined to comment on whether the panel would continue to sit, despite the court order. The Lagos State House of Assembly had on Thursday January 28, set up a six man committee to probe allegations of financial impropriety levelled against Mr. Fashola and the Assembly. The allegations were contained in an advertorial placed in the Punch newspapers of January 28 by an unknown and unregistered group, ‘The true face of Lagos.’ The group accused the governor of financial impropriety running into billions of naira and also accused the House of Assembly members of receiving 20 million naira each, illegally, from the executive. Further hearing in the case comes up on February 17.


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