Akinwunmi Ambode was Lagos governor from May 29, 2015 to May 29 2019 (image courtesy: Lagos State Government)

The Lagos High Court has ordered the Lagos State House of Assembly to halt probe of former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode pending the determination of the case filed by the former governor against the Assembly.

The court had on Tuesday ordered the Speaker and some members of State House of Assembly to appear before the court after hearing a motion ex-parte moved by Ambode’s lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN).

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Other defendants are the Clerk of the House, A. A. Sanni, who signed the newspaper ads, inviting Ambode to the House by 2pm; Chairman of the Ad hoc Committee set up by the House to probe the procurement, Fatai Mojeed; and members of the Committee: Gbolahan Yishawu, A. A. Yusuff, Yinka Ogundimu, Mojisola Lasbat Meranda, M. L. Makinde, Kehinde Joseph, T. A. Adewale and O. S.

The lead counsel to the respondents, Adenike Oshinowo prayed the court to give them time to respond to the application because it was received late.

Following the adjournment, Justice Adesanya, also ordered the parties to maintain the status quo pending the outcome of the case.

The former Governor had instituted a suit against the Assembly to contest the constitutionality of the probe of the buses which were procured based on budgetary approval as part of the Bus Reform Project of the State Government designed to revolutionize public transportation.

According to his statement of claim before the court, Ambode said contrary to deliberate misrepresentation of facts by the lawmakers, the procurement of the 820 buses was well captured in the 2018 Appropriation Law which was duly approved by the House.

“In section 1 of the Bill, the 1st Defendant (House of Assembly) authorized the total Budget for the year 2018 to be One Trillion, Forty Six Billion, One Hundred and Twenty One Million, One Hundred and Eighty-One Thousand, Six Hundred and Eighty Naira (N1,046,121,181,680.00) comprising the sum of Three Hundred and Forty Seven Billion, Thirty-Eighty Million, Nine Hundred and Thirty-Eight Thousand, Eight-Hundred and Seventy-Two Naira (N347,038,938,872.00) only and Six Hundred and Ninety-Nine Billion, Eighty-Two Million, Two Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Eight Hundred and Eighty Naira (N699,082,242,808.00) only as the Recurrent and Capital Expenditures respectively,” the statement read.

“Part of the items authorized by the Bill under Capital Expenditure was: “LAGBUS Public Transport Infrastructure (MEPB); Part financing of 820 buses” which was item 8 under schedule 1- Part C of the Bill.”

Ambode denied receiving any letter from the state assembly, alleging that the lawmakers were biased against him based on their pronouncements on the floor of the house without hearing his side.

The ex-governor is seeking, among others, the court’s declaration that the power of the house to pass a resolution under section 128(1) of the constitution to cause an inquiry into his conduct as governor is subject to right to fair hearing as guaranteed by section 36(1) of the constitution.

He is also seeking an injunction restraining the defendants “whether by themselves, their servants, agents and or representatives from representing or continue to represent to the public” that he procured 820 buses in breach of budgetary approval.

Justice Adesanya adjourned till 20th of November, 2019 for the respondents in the matter to respond to the plaintiff’s application.