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2 May, 45 tweets, 10 min read
All you need to know about the new Lagos State Law establishing the Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission

A Thread:
The Lagos State Govt has denied the claim that its recently-enacted Anti-Corruption Law, which establishes an anti-corruption commission, was a ploy to shield certain former and current officials of the state, who are accused or are suspected of corruption, from prosecution.
In a thread that curated the statement of the state's Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, @gbenga_omo during an interview on Arise TV, the @followlasg said the accusation was unfounded.

Mr Omotoso said the new law is aimed at fighting corruption.
He added that the commission will promote accountability and transparency in the management of the state's funds and will deepen true federalism.

The commissioner added that the state anti-corruption agency would complement those at the federal level and not clash with them.
You can read the thread here:

But was Mr Omotoso speaking the truth. What does the law really say?
Are there provisions in the law that gives credence to the concern of activists who believe the law is a ploy to shield current and former officials of the state from being investigated by federal anti-corruption agencies like the EFCC and ICPC?

Where is this law?
Has anyone seen or read it?

@goslownews has obtained a copy of the law. Below we analyse what we consider important sections of the law to see if there is any truth in Mr Omotoso's claim that the law merely complements other federal anti-corruption legislations.
But before we dive in the the law itself, we will like to express our concern over the habit of the @followlasg of keeping important legislation either too hard or impossible to obtain.
On the website of the Lagos State House of Assembly, all you get is a list of the bills passed by the house since 1999 or bills that are in several stages of being passed. But the text of bills themselves are nowhere to be found.
In fact, the law setting up the Lagos State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption and Commission is not listed on the website. This is an indication that the website is not being updated as it should.
You can take a look at the website of the House of Assembly yourself: lagoshouseofassembly.gov.ng/bills-2/

Similarly, a copy of the law is not on Attorney-General's portal of the website of the Lagos State government or anywhere at all on the site.

In fact, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor of the state, Gboyega Akosile, confessed that there was no electronic copy of the law. However, his office helped to provide a hardcopy of the law.
This is quite surprising for a government which claims it is committed to accountability and transparency.

Now, to the law setting up the anti-corruption commission itself.

What are the powers of the commission? Why is it necessary to set up the commission at this time?
Is the law constitutional?

Section 13 (1) of the law states: "The Commission shall have the power to investigate either on its own initiative or following complaints lodged before it by other person on any administrative action taken by":
(a) Any ministry, department, agency, parastatal or any local government in the state.
(b) Any statutory corporation or public institution set up by the state government, any company incorporated under or pursuit to the Companies and Allied Matters Act owned by the state government or
(c) Any officer or staff of any of the institutions mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b) above.

Section 13(2) then states that the Commission shall have the power to investigate any offence under the Criminal Law of the State in relation to the following:
(i) Corruption and financial crimes;
(ii) Abuse of office;
(iii) Offences relating to administration of justice;
(iv) Obtaining properties by false pretences;
(v) receiving stolen properties or properties fraudulently obtained and similar offences;
(vi) fraudulent dealing with property by debtors.

On paper this sounds like a laudable plan. But why does the Lagos State Government think it should set up a commission that basically does the exact same thing as the EFCC and the ICPC?
Mr Omotoso said the reason was to deepen accountability, transparency and true federalism.
You should also remember that Mr Omotoso dismissed the concerns of activists that the commission was created to shield past and current senior officials of government currently being investigated for corruption by the ICPC and the EFCC
But was Mr Omotoso being sincere to Lagosians?

This is where the law becomes interesting.
Contrary to his claim that the state government has no intention of shielding past and current officials and public servants, including former governors of the state, Section 13(3) &(5) of the law immediately suggest that may be the plan.
According to Section 13, sub-section 3: "The Commission shall upon the commencement of this law take over the investigation of all Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes cases involving the finances and assets of the Lagos State government being investigated by any other Agency"
Sub-section 5 of the section doubles down: "The Commission shall have power to the exclusion of any other Agency or body to investigate and coordinate the investigation of corruption and financial crime cases involving the finances and assets of the state government."
There is more.
Section 14, which described the functions of the commission, includes paragraphs [especially subsections 1(a), 2(b)(c)] that give the commission the exclusive power to investigate all financial crimes and corruption involving the state ministries, agencies, companies and their…

All the governors of Lagos State from 1999, excluding the incumbent have been either been accused or investigated for financial improprieties and corruption
By virtue of the provision of the new law, the EFCC and the ICPC who are investigating these allegations are required to desist from investigating these allegations.
Allegations of corruption has hung on over Bola Tinubu, presidential hopeful and political godfather of Lagos, since he was elected governor in 1999.

In March, the @GazetteNGR reported that the EFCC has reopened the fraud investigation against Mr Tinubu.
Some civil society organisations and activist have also petitioned the EFCC to reopen corruption investigations against him.

It is impossible for the governor and the attorney-general of Lagos, who were basically handpicked by Mr Tinubu are incapable of probing and prosecuting him for corruption, the investigation were to be passed over to them by the EFCC.
In 2015 after it emerged that Mr Fashola built a website for N78 million, a group of anti-corruption activist under the umbrella of Civil Society Network Against Corruption, petitioned the EFCC to investigate the incumbent Minister of Works.

Also, the immediate past governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode is being investigated by the State House of Assembly for alleged fraud over the purchase of 820 buses and other allegations of financial improprieties.

In what appears to be a conflict of interest, the Speaker of the Lagos State Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, who presided over the enactment. of the law is currently under investigation for fraud, embezzlement and money laundering by the EFCC

So, does it mean that this law prohibits the EFCC and ICPC from investigating and prosecuting officials of the Lagos State government over the mismanagement of the state's funds?
Where the law clashes with the law setting up the EFCC and ICPC (it does in several instances), whose authority does the law recognises What do lawyers think?
Olanrewaju Suraju, lawyer and Chairman of Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), told Go Slow News that the Lagos State government is merely exercise in futility.
In a statement sent to us, Mr Suraju described the new law as "a Trojan horse, an attempt to crookedly weaken the fight against corruption, rather than complement it."

He argued that the Lagos Anti-Corruption law is unconstitutional.
He said that by attempting to take over corruption investigations from federal agencies like the EFCC and ICPC, the law contravenes Section 4(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended).
According to Section 4(5) of the 1999 Constitution, "If any Law enacted by the House of Assembly of a State is inconsistent with any law validly made by the National Assembly, the law made by the National Assembly shall prevail, and that other Law shall, to the extent of the…
…inconsistency, be void."

Mr Suraju then described the new Lagos State Anti-Corruption law as "a blunt expression of lack of shame, dignity and integrity by the Lagos State Government and the Lagos House of Assembly."
Speaking further on the exclusive power the new law granted the state's anti-corruption agency, Mr Suraju said:

“Even the federal agencies established by Acts of the National Assembly are never arrogated such exclusive powers.
"This means that while Lagos is dependent on federal allocation, it wants to be independent of federal investigation, what a fallacy! "
He concluded by asking if the Lagos State government was prepared to allow a local government in the state enact an anti-corruption law to the exclusion of the state government.

We have uploaded a scanned copy of the law here: documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri…

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This is going to be a long thread. Please be patient and read through.
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