Friday, April 11, 2014
“I AM NOT A LOOTER” AKANDE C.J TELLS LAGOS GOVERNOR OVER ALLEGATIONS OF VANDALISATION OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTY
VOL 13 NO 17 15-07-13
It was fairly common knowledge in the Lagos State judiciary between year 2009 and 2012 when Hon. Justice Inumidun Akande was the Chief Judge that the relationship between her and her immediate subordinate then, Hon. Justice Ayotunde Phillips was a far cry from amity.
Informed watchers of the Lagos Judiciary knew that the (needless) competition that arose between the two jurists in the (needless) race to succeed Adetula Alabi J. as Chief Judge contributed hugely to the discord.
And so it was that when Akande J. eventually became the Chief Judge, the two jurists just had to manage themselves, forever mutually suspicious of themselves.
Unfortunately, as the Squib can authoritatively reveal, even with the exit of Akande C.J from the system upon her retirement from office in June 2012 the unfriendly and unhealthy relationship between the duo has not abated.
The latest source of the “war of attrition” and discord between the two Chief Judges is located at No 4 Thompson Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, the official quarters of Lagos State Chief Judge. Extra-judicial and multi-faceted geckos briefed the Squib’s Gecko Intelligence Agency (S.G.I.A) that the said No 4 Thompson Street, which was renovated under the supervision and control of the Ministries of Justice and Works sometimes in 2011 at the cost of one hundred and thirty nine million naira, in the regime of Akande C.J has once again undergone another renovation in 2013 in the regime of Phillips C.J at the alleged cost of three hundred and sixty nine million naira.
According to our impeccable sources, Ayo Phillips J the new Chief Judge of the State ordered the latest renovation upon findings showed that No 4 Thompson Street, Ikoyi, Lagos as used and left by her predecessor in office was in a sorry state of disrepair, looted, vandalised and grossly unbefitting to be the official quarters of the Chief Judge of Lagos State.
The Squib gathered that when Inumidun Akande C.J who retired in June 2012, vacated the residence in February 2013 heard claims from certain quarters that she left the official quarters in poor and sordid condition, she forwarded a petition to Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN, restating her innocence and calling for a probe. According to sources in the Governor’s office and the ministry of Justice the Governor was surprised and embarrassed to receive the former Chief Judge’s letter.
Akande in her letter asserted that she never looted or vandalized No 4, Thompson Street in any form or take away any government property. She said she surrendered the keys to the Quarters on the same 27th February 2013 when she moved out, to the incumbent Chief Judge through the office of the then Chief Registrar of the Lagos State High Court, Mr, now Honourable Justice Gani Safari.
She further asserted that she requested for an inventory of the house to be taken by the new administration with her representatives present but that no such exercise has ever been carried out. She further stated in her petition that her own investigation showed that it was the Chief Security Officer of the incumbent Chief Judge and some other persons who actually stormed the house to effect the removal of government property in the house by the truck-load to unknown destinations, after she had vacated the house.
The petition of the former Chief Judge was said to be backed up with several pictures of the condition of the house, especially furniture, electronic gadgets, carpets, blinds in various parts of the house as at the time of her exit, painting a credible picture of leaving No 4, Thompson Avenue in a very tenantable state.
The Squib further gathered that even before the aggrieved ex-Chief Judge dropped her petition with the Governor, the Governor had caused an investigation of the situation at 4 Thompson Avenue, Ikoyi Lagos. Sometimes in late April 2013 or early May 2013, the Governor invited Akande, ex-Chief Judge and Phillips C.J to his official residence to a meeting. Neither of the jurists knew the other was coming.
Other people at the meeting, we gathered were Mr. Ogunlewe, the Head of Service, Mrs. Oguntuase, the Chairman of the Lagos State Tenders Board and Mr. Ade Ipaye, the Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Lagos State.
The Governor at the meeting, expressed his great displeasure and embarrassment at having to call a meeting to look into a matter involving two very senior judges of the state and upon allegations bordering on misconduct and criminality.
He called for a report from officers of state who had gone to inspect 4, Thompson Avenue. The report stated that the place was at the time of visitation and investigation, in shambles. After hearing the committee out and asking a few questions, the governor ‘ruled’ that the report was untenable in view of the claims and assertions of Inumidun Akande Chief Judge in her petition.
The Governor was particularly surprised to learn that despite the alleged massive looting and vandalisation of the residence, the new Chief Judge had not only renovated same but had moved in already within two months and was demanding for the sum of three hundred and sixty nine million naira for the said renovation when it as only in 2011 that the very house was renovated at the cost of one hundred and thirty nine million naira.
Government sources told the Squib that due process in awarding and executing government contracts for developing and renovation of government properties, is a long and rigorous one, designed to eliminate or reduce arbitrary decisions, mismanagement and misappropriation of government funds. The due process in renovation of such government property must involve the Ministry of Works, the State Tenders Board as well as the office of the Governor. Even the Governor himself must pass through the State Tenders Board once a contract (to be executed) or a project cost more than ten million naira.
At the end of the meeting which saw the two antagonists sitting far apart, Akande spoke asserting and reiterating her innocence while her successor, the normally ebullient Phillips C.J, declined any comments.
The Governor there and then set up a new Investigating Panel into the matter to be headed by the Commissioner of Works, Doctor Hamzat. This new panel ordered by the Governor to submit its reports within two weeks however is yet to do so.
The S.G.I.A has however learnt that the Hamzat committee had made some significant discoveries is in the course of their work which included interviewing the contractor who renovated 4, Thompson Avenue in 2011. The gentle-man is said to have submitted to the Hamzat Committee.
(1) Photographs of the house before he started renovation in 2010.
(2) Photographs of the house upon full renovation in November 2011.
(3) Photographs of the house on March 3 2013 (four days after the exit of Akande C.J from the house) to the panel.
Geckos equipped with infra-red eyes specially deployed to the state Government Secretariat assure that the pictures for the 2001 contractor tallied with the pictures of the house affixed to the petition of Akande C.J to the Governor.