A former Managing Director of Ogun State Property and Investment Corporation (OPIC), Babajide Odusolu, on Tuesday challenged the Ogun State government and the House of Assembly to come public with documents and evidence that showed that monies were missing from the corporation’s coffers during his tenure.
Mr Odusolu made this statement at a press conference in Ikeja, Lagos, in response to the impropriety allegations against him by the House of Assembly.
Last week, the House Committee on Public Account and Anti-Corruption, led by Musefiu Lamidi, a lawmaker from Ado-Odo/Igbesa constituency, asked Mr Odusolu to return the sum of N40 million which was unaccounted for during his tenure as the MD of OPIC.
The committee also called on anti-graft agencies to investigate Mr Odusolu and recover an unaccounted balance of N2.5 billion belonging to the state.
‘No missing money’
Reacting to the allegations by the state House of Assembly, Mr Odusolu said he was taken aback by the media publication and the call for investigations by anti-corruption agencies as the allegations against him are false.
Mr Odusolu, a lawyer and a businessman, served as the MD of OPIC between 2013 and May 2019.
“All issues raised in the publication had been addressed during my appearance before the House Committee on the 13th of October, 2020, following their invitation and in my capacity as the immediate past Managing Director of the Corporation for the period under review.
“Also at this session were members of the then current management team of OPIC led by its Director of Finance and Administration (DFA), Director of Projects, the Internal Auditor, the Head of Allocations and other members of the OPIC finance team, who had apparently also been summoned by the committee.
“During the course of the interaction with the said House Committee, I provided clarifications on all issues handled by me as the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation, while referring all technical audit and accounting queries to the DFA, who was present to address them,” he said.
Mr Odusola said after he provided all the clarification sought by the House, the next day, he saw “stories planted in the media that there were infractions against him and that about N3 billion was missing,” which he subsequently gave a response to.
Mr Odusola said reading in the pages of newspapers again last Friday, made him realise that he was being victimised.
“I am a victim of political vendetta that had nothing to do with me. I am not a career politician and unaware of how these things work,” he said.
Mr Odusola said the accounts of OPIC are audited yearly by an auditor appointed by the office of the Auditor General of Ogun state, and none of the accounts or records of the corporation showed any money missing.
“Until today, I don’t have any letter or query from the Ogun State House of Assembly alleging me or asking for clarification on anything whatsoever that smells of impropriety, not a single one.
“They made that allegation and boldly asserted that the investigative agencies should arrest me to account for the money and nothing is missing, there are audited accounts properly filed and certified by chartered accountants.
“Unless you are saying that I colluded with accountants to defraud OPIC and hide it, how could you in 2021 claim that N2 billion was missing and nothing in any of the records of OPIC reflects it? It is because there is no money missing in OPIC.
“I challenge the management of OPIC, I challenge the government of Ogun state, I challenge the Ogun State House of Assembly, if there is any money missing in OPIC to bring out the evidence and not only bring out the evidence but to also show that I, Babajide Odusolu or by extension my principal, Senator Ibikunle Amosu diverted that money,” he said.
Mr Odusola further said that the House committee that looked into the audit reports of OPIC lacks accounting knowledge and audit experience, but allocated to itself a job that should be done by forensic auditors.
Speaking on the allegation that N2, 579,771,717.71 was unaccounted for, the former MD the allegation is false in its entirety.
“No money is missing, and a formal forensic audit will confirm that fact,” he said.
On the sum of N40 Million, which the house instructed Mr Odusola to return to the coffers of the state within six months, he said he had earlier explained that they were expenses incurred as part of the running costs for managing OPIC projects located in several satellite towns of the State.
“We explained that these monies were used to provide cash stipends for staff and artisans working on those sites; provide basic site amenities and cover other ongoing site expenses. This imprest system allowed the men at site to work without undue delay. The DFA and Director of Projects subsequently provided the breakdown of the N40 Million expenditure which the committee chose to totally ignore in its report,” he said.
Speaking on the sales of the 8.2 hectares of land at Isheri, Mr Odusolu said it followed due procedures as executive approval was also obtained.
“The land was offered to Persianas Group, the promoter of Shoprite to construct a Mall. The land is a marshy area and was offered at a discounted rate of approximately N20.5 Million per hectare as against the actual rate of N30m per hectare,” he said.
He said the goal was to promote investment in the state as other companies also benefited from the policy.
The former MD further said the allegation about Marriott Hotel at Ikeja OPIC plaza shows the “clear bias of the committee.”
“The funds in question had been invested prior to my assumption of office as Managing Director and the transaction predated the Senator Amosun led Administration. The documentation costs were simply carried forward on OPIC’s accounts and until the project is consummated and/or written off, it will continue to reflect in the records of OPIC,” he said.
Mr Odusola said he was a real estate developer prior to joining the administration of Amosun-led government in 2013, and contributed his quota to improving the affairs of Ogun State in his area of specialisation.
“The structure of OPIC and its clear accounting policies did not create any room for the sort of laxity or mischief being alleged by this Committee.
“OPIC is a statutory corporation with legal personality, attempting to hold me liable without any proven infractions directly attributable to me or obfuscating facts is a deplorable act, a clear and brazen abuse of legislative privilege and by so doing, the Committee has done incalculable damage to my reputation and by extension de-marketing OPIC and Ogun State,” he said.
Adetunji Adedoyin, the counsel to Mr Odusolu, said they will be challenging the matter in court.
“We will be challenging in court by the procedure adopted by the Ogun State House of Assembly because we sincerely believe that our client’s constitutional right to fair hearing has been grossly breached.
“Till now, he has not been served with any report purportedly indicting him and he was not even called into the procedures where the resolution was passed.
“We will definitely be approaching and if the court agrees with us, we will definitely be asking for colossal damage,” Mr Adedoyin said.
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