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Ekiti govt to Senate: You lack powers to investigate our bailout fund

Ekiti State government has rejected the move by the Senate to probe the bailout funds doled out the state along with other states of the federation by the Federal Government, saying such probe was  unconstitutional.

The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Owoseni Ajayi, made this declaration in a reply to a letter to the state government by the chairman, Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration, Senator Abdullahi Gumel, through the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki,  dated November 11, entitled: “re: Senate oversight assignment on bailout funds granted to Ekiti State,” demanding to carry out an oversight function  in the state on the bailout funds given to it.

The commissioner, in his reply to the Senate Committee’s chairman’s request, said: “we respectfully wish to observe that we are constrained as a state government, bound by the principles of federalism, and the rule of law, to accede to your proposal to exercise oversight powers over the disbursement of the bailout fund granted to Ekiti State by the Federal Government because it is legally and constitutionally outside the powers of the Senate of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

While supporting the state’s  refusal to have the Senate probe its bailout fund, the Commissioner said the action was against the clear provision of Sections 121,122,123, 124, 125 and 128 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ,1999 (as amended).

The commissioner also pointed out also that the Constitution vested the powers of oversight functions in respect of states’ finances exclusively in the respective state Houses of Assembly.

According to him, “Section 125 (5) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended provides for the submission of financial statements and annual accounts of a state to the House of Assembly of the state and the House shall cause the report to be considered by a committee of the House responsible for public accounts.

“In the same vein, Section 128 of the 1999 Constitution specifically confers on the state House of Assembly the powers to conduct investigations into the accounts of the state government.

“In the light of the above, we respectfully opine that your request for a meeting with certain officials of the Ekiti State government and the preparation of reports detailing all grants as received by the state from the Federal Government and the application of such funds, for the consideration of your committee, is an usurpation of the constitutionally-vested powers of the Ekiti State House of Assembly as currently constituted under the able leadership of the Speaker, Honourable Kola Oluwawole.

“Consequently, we have no other choice in the circumstance than to decline to entertain the proposed inquiry by your committee into the disbursement of bailout funds granted to Ekiti State for the above stated reasons.”