24th June, 2010
A group, the Majekobaje Eko Integrity Group, has accused the Lagos State House of Assembly of attempting to sweep under the carpet allegations of financial impropriety levelled against the Managing Director of the stateâ€™s Advertising and Signage Agency (LASAA), Mr. Alabi Makanjuola.
The group, in a statement signed by its National Co-ordinator, Mr. O. O. Olajide, lamented the way the issue has been handled so far by the House, saying that since two months ago when the issue was first raised, no action has been taken.
The group expressed fears that the leadership of the House might have been influenced by the Managing Director, who, according to the group, is desperate to stop investigation into the activities of the agency.
â€œNothing has been done yet and the man in question (Makanjuola) still had the temerity to call a press conference denying all the genuine allegations levelled against him.
â€œBut we want to use this avenue to apprise all concerned people of Lagos State that something is fishy because this man is bragging about having looted so much from the state via his nefarious activities in LASAA,â€ the group said, adding that it was aware that the panel set up by Governor Babatunde Fashola to investigate the allegations had completed its job and made a report available to the governor three weeks ago.
â€œWe also gathered that the House of Assembly set up an ad-hoc committee to look into the case of LASAA and our National Coordinator was summoned to defend the petition. We honoured the invitation and the committee pledged to do its work without wasting time.
â€œEven in the presence of our coordinator, an arrangement was made to send letter to LASAA to produce some relevant documents, including all contractual agreements of the Agency with external contractors from inception till date,â€ the statement added.
The group also threatened that if the relevant authorities failed to carry out any action relating to the allegation, it would reveal more shocking information that would embarrass most politicians in the state.
Two months ago, the group sent a petition to the House demanding a probe of Mr. Makanjuolaâ€™s activities at the Agency.
Among several accusations, which involved spending government money on girls and in-laws, showed that Mr. Makanjuola paid N1.2 million every two weeks as hotel expenses for one Miss Nike Adekanbi, his wifeâ€™s younger sister who he was said to have employed as consultant on human resources to the agency.
â€œWe found out that shortly after our first publication, Mr. Makanjuola immediately asked his sister-in-law, Nike Adekanbi to resign from the services of the Agency. The lady also left with LASAAâ€™s Murano jeep bought for her with the Agencyâ€™s fund as her official car,â€ the petition stated.
It also stated that though LASAA realised over N100 million from mobile adverts in 2009, Makanjuola claimed that the agency did not realize any money, but the receipts issued to companies that made payments were made available by the petitioners.
The petitioners submitted that Chris Enhamo, who was in charge of the mobile unit at the time and Lamide Oyegoke, who issued official receipts will testify when arrested by the police.
The petitoners also accused Mr. Makanjuola of acquiring two plots of land at Banana Island, in Ikoyi at the rate of N300 million each and that the survey of the plots was carried out by Lekan Osinubi and Bobby, who they claimed are Mr. Makanjuolaâ€™s staff at Bravura Architects, which office is situated inside the agencyâ€™s premises.
The petitioners further accused the agencyâ€™s accountant, Mr. Kehinde Ajewole, of using his share of the loot to complete his house in Lekki and Mowe, Ibafo.
Makanjuola was further accused of selling fake annexure 1A application forms he printed to practitioners using Morinola Lawal, Tutu and Dupe Fagbamigbe, his girlfriends. These three, the petitioners stated are staff of the agency and are in the Corporate Affairs Department.
In May, 2008, the petitioners revealed, Makanjuola and the agencyâ€™s accountant â€œpackaged N500, 000 each for members of the Public Accounts Committee of the House so that they will not raise any query in respect of the agencyâ€™s accounts presented to them for scrutiny.
â€œWe have the list of the committee members and the recorded video as they collect the money with the speed of light, complaining that the money given to them was not enough considering the magnitude of manipulations and extrapolations in the accounts of the agency.
â€œWhere are we heading to in this nation, an independent committee set up to check corrupt practices aiding and abetting the culprits.
â€œMr. Patrick De Rubillard whose name was mentioned as one of the directors in Alt-Media, a company that is owned by Makanjola, called us from South Africa denying the fact that he is a director in Alt-Media, adding that Makanjuola impersonated him by putting his name and forging his signature as one of the directors of Alt-Media. We have evidence to this effect by Mr. Patrick De Rubillard.â€
The petitioners said that in an attempt to falsify the agencyâ€™s account records, the MD moved the audit unit of the agency to his office and that no staff of the agency can go to the department without his permission except his cohorts.
They also accused him of looting $3, 000 which he claimed he was sending to the members of the House of Assembly as special package in December 2008. â€œThis, we know is not true as no money was delivered to the Honourable members.
â€œIt was taken home by Makanjuola for his personal expenses. This can be verified from Zenith Bank, Acme Road Branch, through a special account opened by LASAAâ€™s champion.
â€œThey also opened a fixed deposit account with Zenith and Skye Bank where they transferred LASAAâ€™s fund generated so that it will earn them enough interest for the period of the contract with the two banks. We are willing to provide other facts to substantiate the allegations whenever we are asked to,â€ they said.
But responding to the allegation that the House was not willing to probe LASAA, Chairman, Lagos State House of Assembly Committe on Information, Hon. Ipoola Omisore, denied that the House had compromised its position on the probing of LASAA.
”There is not going to be any cover up. The LASAA boss has already been invited to come and say all that he knows on the allegations,” stated.
Hon. Omisore also assured Lagosians that justice will be done in the matter.