Removal of Kwara State Auditor-General: A case against fiscal transparency, the rule of law - CODWA

Date: 2022-05-13

Executive Director, Community Outreach for Development and Welfare Advocacy (CODWA), Comrade Taiwo Otitolaye, and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joseph S. Bamigboye, have kicked against the removal of the Kwara State Auditor-General, Mr. Samuel Omoniyi Adeyeye allegedly by the Kwara State Government.

Otitolaye said the auditor was removed against the injunction of the Industrial Court, a competent court of jurisdictions sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital that Kwara State Government stay action from removing the state Auditor General pending the determination of his suit against this regime.

He also said the removal was unjust and allegedly did not follow due process, adding that Adeyeye was not given a fair hearing.

Otitolaye said, “Joint investigation by the undersigned Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on the removal of Kwara State Auditor General revealed a high level of victimization, lip service to fiscal transparency and accountability; and an ignoble reputation of undermining the Rule of Law by the Kwara State government.

“The role of the state audit is of utmost importance for public sector financing because it indicates problems which diminish the effectiveness of the functionality of the state, increases the transparency of the public sector, and influences the creation of additional value for money to improve service delivery (ISD) and development.

“The most important function of government auditing is to determine whether the process of collecting and spending public funds and other relevant transactions is in line with state laws and regulations, to determine whether there is any misbehavior in the management of public revenue and expenditure.

“An audit provides independent verification that the financial statements are a true and fair representation of the state‘s current situation. This provides invaluable credibility and confidence to the people.

“Following the Audit query for expenditures to the sum of N6.2 billion that were not receipted, the state government orchestrated every mechanism to pull down the Auditor-General for performing his professional job which he swore to abide by under oath of office. It went ahead to use the State Assembly members who are willing negative channels to purportedly remove the Auditor without any query in the history of his career, and without any avenue for a fair hearing.

“Section 85(6) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (As Amended)states that “in the exercise of his function under the Constitution, the Auditor-General shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other authority or person.

“The undersigned Civil Society Organizations are perturbed by seemingly nonchalant disposition and repulsive steps of the state government towards sustainability of reforms of its fiscal governance ecosystem evident by unjustified removal of State Auditor General directly linked to his damning findings itemized in the maiden Citizens Accountability Report.”

He added, “The auditor was removed against the injunction of the Industrial Court, a competent court of jurisdictions sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital that Kwara State Government stay action from removing the state Auditor General pending the determination of his suit against this regime. This is recklessness and perversion of justice taken too far.

“To add color to her charade, the government went to town with fanfare, and agog with fake news funded by public funds that the Industrial Court has overturned the injunction. There is a contempt of court hanging on this anti-Rule of Law agents. We call on the Auditor to do the needful to disallow negative precedences.

“It is now an established fact that the state is equally afraid to be part of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) process in Nigeria which many state governments have signed into. Her attitude and body language toward the OGP are chameleonic in appearance and actions.

“The Abdulrahaman regime has continuously camouflaged openness and accountability. If wishes were horses, the governor and his political agents would hang white albatrosses around their necks in a cacophony of deceit and as a mark of subjugated victory over fiscal transparency.

“The state Assembly has also continued to be a rubber stamp organ instead of playing her oversight functions of checks and balances. The public hearing on the amended state Audit Laws was exercised in brinkmanship; it only acted the prepared script of the Abdulradaq Abdulramam musical theatrical hide and seek game. Apart from a hurriedly organized public hearing, quality propositions from civil society organizations, (CSOs), the private sector, and the general public on the bill were thrown into the waste bin. The so-called amendments were pigeonhole arrangements.

“By treading this path, the KWSHA members have abandoned the responsibilities for which they were elected.

“We call for the reinstatement of Mr. Samuel Omoniyi Adeyeye in obedience to the injunction of the Industrial Court.” Bamigboye in a statement said it is untrue that the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, sitting in Akure, Ondo State vacated an order of interim injunction restraining; the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, from removing the Auditor General of Kwara State from office pending the determination of his motion on notice before the court.

Bamigboye said, “Our attention has been drawn to a statement issued from the office of the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kwara State; Mallam Rafiu Ajakaiye that the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, NICN sitting in Akure, Ondo State has vacated an Order of Interim injunction restraining his principal; the Governor of Kwara State from removing the Auditor General of Kwara State from office pending the determination of his Motion on Notice before the court.

“This statement by the Chief Press Secretary which has gone viral in the public domain and certain sections of the media, to say the least, is pre-judicial and done in a manner not responsible enough of the office of the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kwara State. Not only that, the Chief Press Secretary has substantially compromised the integrity of the honorable court and maligned the character of the Auditor General of the State and his team of lawyers in a case already before the court.

“We hereby urge members of the public to discountenance this fake news evidently done in a very bad taste. We assure you that appropriate legal redress will be taken against this defamatory press release.”

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