By Shola Adewunmi
Lagos State House of Assembly has called on the state governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu to make recourse to the House over expenses incurred from the donations made towards combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
The House also charged the governor to make recourse to it before declaring a state of emergency even during a particular situation like currently being experienced on COVID-19 deadly pandemic.
The resolution followed the observation raised by the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) on a recently passed Bill tagged, ‘Coronavirus Pandemic Emergency Law, 2020.”
The executive observed among others on the provisions in the law, directing the governor to make a request to the House before declaring a state of emergency and rendering account to the House on the spending of donations to the state government to address the pandemic.
Presiding over the plenary session on Thursday at the chambers, the speaker, Rt. (Hon) Mudashiru Obasa, pointed out that the institution is not depriving the governor his power but recourse must be made to the House.
“It is our own duty to do what is right. It is for them to follow what we do in line with the constitution.
“The law says, they will come forward to give account on what they have expended.
“If you set up a committee and the governor is the Chairman, and the House committee later invites the governor, it will look like a confrontation,” Obasa said.
The speaker explained further that it would be better to introduce a co-chairman from the executive arm on incident command, adding that the co-chairman would be ready to face the House committee.
“Now that we have an emergency situation, there must be an independent account set up separately, otherwise something is missing somewhere,” he said.
Earlier, the Chairman House Committee on Health Services, Hon Akeem Sokunle had read the recommendations of the committee on a report that addressed the observations raised by the Attorney-General.
The recommendation stated in part, “With regards to paragraph 3 of the observation, the committee is of the opinion that it is not a usurpation of power to create a procedure for activating a donated power.
“Section 305 of the 1999 constitution which gives the power to declare a state of emergency clearly stipulates the procedure to be followed in exercising that given power.
“The committee also points out that we are all in these together once Mr governor communicates his intention to extend the state of emergency to the House, it will expeditiously be dealt with as already stated in section 23(2) of the law.
“Mr governor should be mindful of the fact that the funds referred to are funds not budgeted for and it is not in the consolidated fund or development fund but are donations and grants and since Mr governor is so mindful of his public image, it is only right that we help him to so do which is why the provision of section 4 (2) of the Law is sacrosanct.”
The report titled, “Recently passed Coronavirus Pandemic Emergency Law, 2020 had rejected some of the proposals by the executive, saying the governor should be mindful that the funds are not budgeted for.
Meanwhile, Hon Folajimi Mohammed had noted that following quarantine Act, the governor might not make recourse to the House because it demanded urgent action.
But, the speaker argued that going by the constitutional provision, the governor would have to come for accountability.