Posted by By YINKA FABOWALE,Ibadan on
Oyo State Deputy Governor and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard bearer in next month’s governorship election, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala,has been barred from holding public office in the future.
Oyo State Deputy Governor and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard bearer in next month’s governorship election, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala,has been barred from holding public office in the future. Also baired is Prof Taoheed Adedoja, former chairman of the state Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), who is running against Akala in next month's election on the platform of the Action Congress (AC).
Upholding the recommendations of the five-man Administrative Panel that investigated alleged irregularities in the award and execution of contracts by government officials during the 11months Akala held sway as 'governor,' the Oyo government issued a white paper itemising Akala’s sins.
Rashidi Ladoja had been impeached on January12, last year.
The administrative panel, headed by the State Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner, Adebayo Shittu,indicted the duo for fraud, embezzlement and financial mismanagement and recommended that they refund various sums of money running to millions of naira, believed to be proceeds from inflated contracts.
In additon, Akala is to face prosecution when he loses the immunity he currently enjoys, along with Chief Layiwola Olakojo, who served as the SSG during the interregnum.
They, along with some government officials, allegedly defrauded the state to the tune of N800 million.
The Akala camp, which has been at a cold war with Ladoja since the latter’s reinstatement, has cried foul, describing the panel's work as a witch-hunt and proof of the governor's vendetta against his estranged deputy.
It described the exercise as void and of no effect, saying a court of law had purportedly stopped the body from further sitting.
Ladoja had set up the panel whose membership also included: Waheed Akanbi (Finance, Budget and Planning); Adebayo Lawal, (Information, Culture and Tourism); Akim Yusuff, (Special Adviser, Due Process) and Ismaila Ashipa, (Special Assistant on Legislative Matters) on March 8, based on several petitions from members of the public. The panel sat for two weeks and turned in its findings last Wednesday.
The panel's investigation and report covered areas of allegation spanning purchase of a 26 -year-old 1000KVA generator for N18 million, purchase of state customised primary school textbooks with an over-invoicing of about N537 million, purchase of 33 units of Toyota Hiace mobile ambulances for the 33 local governments with an inflated amount of N280 million.
It found, among other things, that Akala approved the purchase of a 26- year-old scrap 1000KVA generating set at the cost of N18 million for use in the Government House without due process.
The generator, which packed up after functioning for only a maximum of 15 hours was reportedly sprayed and sold to the state government by a firm with fictitious address.
The panel condemned the deputy governor's behaviour as 'reckless,' noting that a market survey showed that a brand new generator of the same model cost N21 million. It said Akala's inability to either bring those involved in the contract award to book corroborates his culpability in the 'unfortunate episode' which caused the state to lose valuable money.
The panel also held Akala and Adedoja, who served under him until he defected to the AC to contest the governorship a few months ago as having cases "Bordering on embezzlement, financial recklessness and gross financial mismanagement to answer on award of contracts for the supply of textbooks, which cost the state to lose N537,025,010 million.
The panel examined sundry petitions, some of which had been forwarded to the anti-graft commissions, including the EFCC and ICPC, found and recommended that the following officials of the government and the company indicted, including Otunba Adebayo Alao- Akala (deputy governor and 'acting governor' in the 11 month reign), Chief Olayiwola Olakojo (SSG), Professor Taoheed Adedoja, Dr. Saka Balogun (the then Chief of Staff), Mega Connections Ltd and Permanent Secretary/ Director of Cabinet in the Ministry "should be made to refund individually and jointly the N120 million being over-payment on the inflated contract of Primary School Teachers' Payroll computerisation" among others.
Reacting to the panel's report however, Prince Dotun Oyelade, Director, Media and Strategy, Akala 20007 Gubernatorial Project said: "The so-called indictment of Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala by the Ladoja administrative panel is a pathetic ruse. The outcome of the panel is ineffectual, non-implementable and of no consequence because a court of law has stopped its proceeding forthwith, yet in its blind desperation, Ladoja went ahead to pronounce a judgment he can do nothing about.
"This type of vendetta approach to governance is dangerous and cannot work in any civilized society. For us in the PDP in Oyo State , it is business as usual and the gubernatorial campaign train of Alao-Akala moves on inexorably towards inevitable electoral victory on April 14 and 21, 2007 and Ladoja cannot stop it. The status quo remains".
Dismissing the claim of Prince Oyelade that the report was unenforceable in law, the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Dele Adigun, briefing journalists on Monday, said the state government had received the report and a white paper has been issued on it.
"The panel was set up and it commenced sitting on March 8, 2007. Its term of reference included investigating various allegations with respect to some former and serving government officials. The executive has received the report and white paper has been issued on it.
The report was submitted and ratified last Thursday (22/03/2007). The claim that a court of law has stopped the panel is a nullity. An action that has taken place cannot be stopped. We have received the report last Thursday and it has been ratified at the exco meeting," he said.
He said the panel was not set up to witch-haunt Akala'. His words:"There is nothing of witch-haunt in this matter. Forgiveness and reconciliation cannot work with regard to public fund. Since a criminal case has been established, whether we prosecute them now or not, the government is a continuum and they will be prosecuted anytime".
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