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Lagos Matters

Lassa fever death toll rises to 176 — amid battle against coronavirus

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Nigeria has recorded three more deaths from the Lassa fever outbreak, raising the total death in 2020 to 176.

The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) disclosed this on Thursday in its latest situation report.

It said 28 new cases were also recorded, shooting the total number of those infected up to 932 across at least 27 states.

The NCDC  added that the states with highest new confirmed cases are Edo (eight) and Ondo (five).

Lassa fever is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces. Its symptoms include high fever, soar throat, nausea, fever and general weakness.

The disease has been endemic in Nigeria, as there is often an outbreak every year. This time, Nigeria is battling it alongside a new disease: the coronavirus.

As of Wednesday night, 51 persons have been infected with the virus, which has led to the death of one person and grounded economic activities across the country.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in December, half a million people have been infected globally while at least 23,500 have died from the disease.

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Lagos Matters

Violators of coronavirus lockdown face jail term as Lagos assembly passes new law

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The Lagos state house of assembly on Thursday passed into law an emergency bill to help the state combat coronavirus.

Of the 51 confirmed cases of the virus in Nigeria, the state has the highest number, 32.

On Thursday, the state lawmakers passed the “Emergency Coronavirus Pandemic Bill 2020” personally sponsored by Mudashiru Obasa, the speaker, into law.

It affords Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor, the legislative concurrence to spend an initial N20 billion to effectively contain the virus and enforce compliance by Lagosians.

The bill was presented on the floor of the chamber by Noheem Adams, deputy majority leader, after which it scaled the first and second readings and was passed to the committee on health for further deliberation.

The bill was later laid before the house by Hakeem Sokunle, chairman of the committee on health, after which it scaled the third reading.

The bill gives the governor the opportunity to make recourse back to the house before any regulations.

The bill also stipulates a fine of N100,000 for defaulters, one month imprisonment in the correctional centre or three months community service.

Where the offence is not spelt out, it attracts N200,000 and also allows the leadership of the various arms of government to structure their own restriction format.

Section 8 of the bill makes provision for the coronavirus Trust Fund.

The bill further empowers the governor to declare a state of emergency of up to three months if the situation requires so.

Speaking on the bill, Adedamola Kasunmu (Ikeja constituency 2), said it was important to alleviate the impact of the virus on the economy of Lagos, especially since the bill would enable the executive to expend necessary funds to contain the virus by providing adequate facilities in the state owned hospitals.

On his part, Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti-Osa 2), said: “We urge Lagosians to bear with us. Pandemics are not new but the way government and people react to it matters 150 states in the world.

“Lagos recorded the first case,so they should look at the possibility to broaden it to capture much more.”

Contributing, Obasa said the contingency plan in the budget cannot sort out the current issue.

“Government needs be seen doing something, making effective pronouncements. The governor can make recourse back to the House if need be. If the budget procedure takes much time that can’t suffice, the kick off fund will help,” he said.

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Lagos Matters

Lagos Assembly Reinstates Suspended Lawmakers

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Lagos State House of Assembly has lifted the suspension placed on four of its members.

The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa announced the move at the start of plenary on Thursday.

Speaker Obasa said that the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC) and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress called a meeting on Tuesday to intervene in the crisis and directed that the House should reinstate the suspended lawmakers.

The affected lawmakers are Hon. Olumuyiwa Jimoh, who was the Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Rotimi Abiru, who was the Chief Whip, Hon. Moshood Oshun and Hon. Raheem Adewale.

Their indefinite suspension was announced at the plenary on Monday, 9th of March and the affected lawmakers and their aides were later denied access to the legislative complex.

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Cover Stories

Revealed! The Dirty Lagos Assembly War That Laid-Off Principal Officers, Lawmakers

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+ Messy Details Of Power Play In The Once Peaceful Lawmaking Body

When in 2019, all the 40 seats in the Lagos State House of Assembly was filled by the All Progressives Congress (APC), which also won the Governorship Election, the threes senatorial seats and majority seats in the Federal House of Representatives in the state, residents of the state had looked forward to a completely peaceful Assembly.

But events of recent times appear to have shown that all is not well in the state house of Assembly and that the once peaceful house is facing its own period of crisis.

The events that led to the current situation in the Assembly started with a report in a national newspaper that the leadership of the Assembly purchased 80 vehicles for the 40 lawmakers in the Assembly with a whooping N2.4 Billion within a year.

This eventually led to the opening of a can of worms that has since consumed two principal officers of the house and two other lawmakers in the Speaker Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa-led Assembly.

Precisely on Monday 9th March, 2020, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa announced the removal of two of its principal officers; the Chief Whip, Hon. Rotimi Abiru (Shomolu Constituency 2) and the Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Olumuyiwa Jimoh (Apapa Constituency 2).

Two other members of the House, Moshood Oshun (Lagos Mainland Constituency II) and Kazeem Raheem Adewale (Ibeji Lekki Constituency II), were also suspended indefinitely during plenary on the fateful day.

Announcing the suspension of the members, Speaker Mudashiru Obasa, stated that the House as the hope of the people and the heartbeat of democracy should be well guided.

“I hereby invoke Section 68 and Section 70 4 (a, b) 2 and 3 of the House Rules in respect of gross misconduct, insubordination and action that can destablise this House. I hereby move that Moshood Oshun and Raheem Adewale be placed on suspension indefinitely,” the Speaker said.

The two decisions were supported through voice-votes by members present during plenary, and change in the leadership was contained in a letter read on the floor of the House by the Clerk, Azeez Sanni.

Sanni stated that the 26 members that signed the letter urged the House “to change the leadership of the House, including Rotimi Abiru as the Chief Whip and Olumuyiwa Jimoh as Deputy Majority Leader.”

According to him, the removal of the principal officers and suspension of two other members came amid speculation that there were critical issues that could divide the House and “that more revelations might come in the coming days.”

The two embattled principal officers of the Assembly have since been replaced by Hon. Noheem Adams (Eti Osa Constituency 1) as the Deputy Majority Leader and Mojisola Miranda (Apapa Constituency 1) as the new Chief Whip of the Assembly.

The issue later generated several controversies within and outside the Assembly premises with people insinuating that the development was a fallout of the relationship between Speaker Mudashiru Obasa and the senator representing Lagos East District, Senator Bayo Oshinowo, who is believed to have installed Obasa as Speaker in 2015 and in 2019.

Oshinowo was a lawmaker in the Assembly from 2003 to 2019 from Kosofe Constituency 1, before he left for Abuja in May, 2019 after winning senatorial election.

But this assertion was later debunked by the media office of Speaker Obasa in a statement.

Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa had insisted in the statement that the political empire of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the ruling APC in Lagos remained intact and strong.

According to the Speaker, instilling discipline among members of the state’s House of Assembly did not equate with friction in any form between him and members of the party.

Obasa stressed that Tinubu had gone through a lot building the APC in Lagos and Nigeria, adding that nobody in his right senses would do anything to be a clog in the wheel of the party’s progress.

“Tinubu remains everything to the continued success of the party he built from the scratch and nurtured up to this moment.

“It is unarguable that his resilience, love for democracy, passion to see his foot-soldiers grow and belief in discipline cannot be measured,” he said.

Obasa maintained that the party in Lagos remained united and that what happened recently at the House of Assembly involving the removal of two principal officers and the suspension of two others was a measure to ensure that the legislature remained strengthened and its sanctity maintained.

“This is why during plenary on Monday, March 9, I made this proclamation: ‘The parliament is a heartbeat of every democratic system, its sanctity, integrity and positive reputation should be guided and protected, hence discipline is a key and where it’s lacking, the hope of the people fizzle,” he said.

To further prove that the House of Assembly is united, Obasa said 33 members of the House sat at plenary on Tuesday with the newly elected principal officers, including the deputy leader carrying out their tasks as expected.

The Speaker further denied any rift between him and Oshinowo, popularly called ‘Pepper’, who he described as a friend and mentor and with whose support he had excelled in legislative activities.

Emphasising this cordial relationship, Obasa said he was with Oshinowo on Tuesday and that they both drove in his convoy.

“I was the one that dropped Senator Oshinowo off on his way to Abuja yesterday. If there was a rift between us, will that happen?” The Speaker asked.

On Monday 16th March, 2020, the lawmakers in the Assembly later passed a vote of confidence on the Speaker on the purchase of vehicles worth N2.4 Billion for the members of the Assembly.

This followed series of media reports alleging that the cars were bought without due process and that there were manipulations in the process.

The issue of a petition by an NGO on the matter had been brought to the House during plenary by Hon. Rotimi Olowo (Shomolu Constituency 1) under Matter of Urgent Public Importance.

In a petition, which was said to have been sent to the office of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and addressed to the office of the chairman of the commission with the title:

“PETITION AGAINST LAGOS STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY SPEAKER, MUDHASIRU OBASA ON GROSS FINANCIAL MISCONDUCT, CRIMINAL BREACH OF PUBLIC TRUST AND ABUSE OF OFFICE,” the Executive Director, Comrade Buna Olaitan Isiak, of the petitioner, Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA) claimed that popular demand necessitated the petition.

“Further to a popular demand by some members of the public to our office, this petition is written to acquaint your agency EFCC, with the gross financial misconduct and the abuse of office being perpetrated by the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Honorable Mudashiru Obasa, for a thorough investigation so as to avert a further bleeding of the public treasury under his care and restore sanity in the functioning of the states legislative establishment.

 “The Speakers desecration of his office for which a probe of his activities becomes necessary is in twofold: one, his financial recklessness and cornering of public funds through illegitimate means; and two, the corruption and compromise of laid down procedures and rules deliberately foisted on the workforce of the Assembly,” the petition read.

Hon. Olowo stated that he went through the petition, that it was malicious and that it is against the image of the House.

“It was stated that the House bought vehicles worth N2.4 Billion. Since I joined the House of Assembly, we always got two vehicles before the end of the Assembly.

“In 2007, I got a vehicle and a back up vehicle before the end of the Assembly. The vehicles are always budgeted for and it has been like that right from the time of Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji.

“We always told the Speaker that the 8th Assembly could not wind up without a back up vehicle.

“The Speaker used to tell to us that the resources were not available and we later got the back-up in April, 2019.

In the 9th Assembly, we just got our official vehicles in November/December, 2019.

“None of the 11 new members got two vehicles. We insisted on Prado Jeep and Mr. Speaker didn’t want to give us, but we insisted on it.

“We are all beneficiaries of the largesse and yet we go about making insinuations and leaking information to the whole world,” he said.

While adding that the write-up and petition was written in bad light, he said that there was no iota of truth in it.

“We also said that the buses that we were using for committee works were bad and we insisted that he should buy a new set and he did.

Hon. Olowo then moved that having appreciated Speaker Obasa to be a democratic, a responsible and a reliable leader, a vote of confidence should be passed on him, and this was supported by majority the lawmakers with the raising up of their hands.

Speaker Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa later stated that the issue was not about official vehicles, but the backup vehicles and the money spent purchasing them.

“The official vehicles for the 9th Assembly was the issue. It was a deliberate action to paint the House in bad light. The people that stole the vouchers that were leaked to the press is the issue.

“I thank you for all you have said about the petition. We have discussed issues relating to divulging the discussions in the House.

“I said that the issue that came out in the Guardian Newspaper is traceable to Hon. Moshood Oshun.

“He was asking me for documents of the vehicle given to him, he was the one that called me on the telephone that his vehicle was seized by Customs Officer.

“I once said that someone stole the vouchers of the vehicles. Where did he get it from if not for the role played by a member of the House.

“The writer of the petition is close to Hon. Olumuyiwa Jimoh. Some of the things he wrote were parts of what we have discussed,” he said.

Speaker Obasa then declared that there is no crisis in the Lagos State House of Assembly, “if there is crisis, we would not have this number of people in the Assembly that we have today.

“We have been sitting and we have been having parliamentary meetings. We must stand by the truth and the truth would set you free. There is no decision we take that we did not discuss in the Assembly. There is  nothing hidden about the purchase of the vehicles, you can cross-check the facts.

“Hon. Rotimi Abiru said that it is a failure on the part of the leadership of the Assembly that they were not given backup cars and houses then,” he said.

The motion of Hon. Olowo was supported by all the lawmakers, who spoke on the matter and they all agreed that the Speaker was on the right path, adding that they all took the decision over the purchase of the cars together.

However, the coming days would determine if the embattled lawmakers would get a respite and if the matter would continue to linger just as the report of the committee set-up on the matter is being awaited by watchers of events in the Assembly.

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