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Groups threaten protest, to sue Lagos over alleged laundering of commonwealth

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Group of activists in Lagos State have vowed to employ legal and mass advocacy actions against the state government if in the next one week, the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration fails to address what they termed “systematic laundering” of the state’s commonwealth.”

In a statement released at a press briefing in Lagos on Friday and signed by the national coordinator, AUGAPOL, Comrade Mark Adebayo, and the chairman, Coalition Against Corruption and Bad Governance (CACOBAG), Comrade Toyin Raheem, the group accused “certain government elements,” of indulging in the alleged laundering crime.

In the statement entitled, “An open petition to governor Ambode on the allegations of systematic laundering of Lagos State’s commonwealth by certain government elements,” the group frowned at a situation where government-owned institutions hold retreats and other events at a particular hotel outside Lagos that is owned by a government official.

The statement read, “Our organizations have been inundated with complaints and allegations of gross corruption bothering on what might qualify for money laundering on the part of some highly placed government functionaries in the state.

“It is public knowledge that since the inception of the Ambode administration, one form of retreat or the other has been and still being organized periodically.

“However, we wish to call the attention of the Lagos State governor, His Excellency Akinwumi Ambode, to the underlining currents of corruption rendering the whole budget and other policy retreats by the State’s House of Assembly and now local government officials across the state smelling of organised corruption through this open petition that will subsequently be submitted to the governor’s office for necessary actions.

“Two main reasons informed this open petition to the governor. One, the Akinwumi Ambode administration has been generally adjudged to have recorded excellent feats of performance since the inception of his administration. We hold no contrary view on this considering the facts of performance on record. It is to safeguard this hard-earned reputation that we find it necessary to call his attention to what we consider improper, inappropriate, and utterly unacceptable.

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“Secondly, in view of the vociferous public opposition to the tax regime review recently announced by the state government, it behooves on the government to be circumspect on how the state’s resources and tax payers’ moneys are being managed.

“We find it economically, socially, and politically unacceptable and morally reprehensible for the state government’s institutions to be holding retreats upon retreats in the same hotel every time outside the state. Hotels in Lagos contribute in no small measures to the economic development of Lagos State through the payments of tax, VATs and a variety of other taxes to the Lagos State government monthly, beside their regular provision of employment for Lagosians. It is therefore a great injustice done to them and the tourism potentials of Lagos State if the state government’s institutions refuse to patronize them while engaging in official activities.

“Information at our disposal suggests that the AM-PM Hotel where all these retreats are being held all this while is owned by a member of the Lagos State cabinet popularly known as Oris – Special Adviser to the governor on Community and Communication. Here we see a conflict of interest and what might, with critical interrogation, end up being a conduit pipe for siphoning Lagos state’s resources off the state. We learned that it has been this same hotel that the current Lagos State Assembly has been using since inception that all the Lagos State LGA and LCDA have been directed to hold their conferences and retreats that cost Lagos tax payers’ money to the tune of millions of Naira if not billions.

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“If the governor is not involved in what is obviously a scam and which unconfirmed allegations allude to that it is part of the avenues of raising funds for his second term bid, he must step in and redress this awful embarrassment to his administration. We call on Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to weigh in on this issue immediately with a view to avoiding giving credence to the allegations of his knowledge and endorsement of these condemnable infractions.

“We demand for full disclosure of the expenses of the Lagos State Assembly since inception of the current legislature and the operations of the State-LG Joint Account where there have been allegations of mass corruption in which the LGAs are allegedly being severely shortchanged as moneys meant for them are being deducted at source and spent on frivolous things including sharing among some party bigwigs.

“If the state government is desirous of successful mobilising Lagosians behind its tax drive for development, the culture of secrecy that has surrounded the revenue and expenditure profiles of the state since inception of the current administration must be jettisoned in favour of total transparency and accountability. This has been a recurrent challenge in the state which other organizations have addressed severally, especially BudgiT that is a foremost budget tracking and analysis organisation.

“The time has come for a positive change of direction. Failure to take a decision on this matter by the state’s government in the next one week, we will resort to both legal and mass advocacy actions to resolve it.”

 

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