The Lagos government has denied claims that Babajide
Sanwo-Olu, governor of the state, paid N200 million for election litigation
from state coffers.
Gbenga Omotoso, chief press secretary to the governor, in a
statement on Monday, said the claim was “another ploy to deceive the public
about a non-existent payment of N50,000,000 to four lawyers”.
On Sunday, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, governorship candidate of
the Labour Party (LP) in the last poll, accused Sanwo-Olu of paying for
election related legal representation with state funds.
The pre-election suit was filed by Rhodes-Vivour against
Sanwo-Olu, Obafemi Hamzat, the deputy governor; Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC), and All Progressives Congress (APC).
On November 19, the LP candidate published a screenshot of a
document via X (formerly known as Twitter) showing that the sum of N50,000,000
each was given to four lawyers for “instruction to represent and defend Mr
Sanwo-Olu Babajide Olusola”.
“Instruction to represent and defend Mr Sanwo-Olu Babajide
Olusola in: suit no; FHC/CS/1979/2022- Peoples Democratic Party VS Independent
National Electoral Commission and 42 ORS,” the project description reads.
When TheCable checked the website of the Lagos State Public
Procurement Agency (LPPA), it was observed that the line item can be found
under projects budgeted for in January 2023.
In the document, the sum of N50,000,000 each was budgeted
for Ahmed Raji & co, Akinboro & co, Babatunde Ogala & co, and
Messrs. Femi Okunnu & co.
The state government said the transaction referenced by
Rhodes-Vivour never took place, while admitting that the payment requests were
not approved by the governor.
“The allegation was supported by a document that neither
carried the logo of the Lagos State Government nor the endorsement of any of
its officials,” the statement reads.
“It was simply another ploy to deceive the public about a
non-existent payment of N50,000,000 to four lawyers.
“While it is worthwhile for patriotic individuals to
scrutinise the finances of the Lagos state government, the outcome of such
inquiry must always be based on verified facts and nothing but the truth.
“The transaction referenced by Mr. Rhodes-Vivour never took
place. There was a payment request, which was not approved by Mr Governor when
the Honorable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice drew his attention
to it because it is irregular.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu
will never misappropriate public funds in defiance of his Oath of Office.”
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