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  •  The bill ought to have been passed more than a year ago, says Ondo government 

The Ondo State House of Assembly yesterday passed Ondo State anti-corruption bill into law.

The bill aims to checkmate corruption and promote probity and accountability in the conduct of government business.

The Ondo State Public Complaints, Financial Crime and Anti-corruption Commission Establishment Bill was forwarded to the House of Assembly by the Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu SAN.

Meanwhile, the Ondo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has said that Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is trying to shield his family from investigation by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for submitting the anti corruption bill to the state assembly for passage.

According to the PDP, the Ondo State Anti-corruption Bill tagged the ‘bill for a law to establish the Ondo State Public Complaints, Financial Crime and Anti-corruption Commission and others connected thereto 2021’ had been forwarded to the state assembly to that effect.

The party had on Wednesday listed no fewer than eight proxy companies allegedly owned by Akeredolu’s wife, Betty, and son, Babajide, to corner contracts and siphon funds from the state treasury.

Read Also: PDP drags Akeredolu’s family to EFCC over alleged looting of Ondo Treasury with 8 proxy companies

In a statement on Thursday issued by the Publicity Secretary of PDP in the state, Kennedy Peretei, the party alleged that the bill was crafted to give exclusive powers to the proposed anti-graft agency in matters of corruption in the state.

It was gathered that the commission upon take-off will take over the investigation of all anti-corruption and financial crime cases involving the finances and assets of the state government and will be vested with powers to investigate any public servant within the jurisdiction of the state.

The party added that the intentions behind the institutional framework to stamp out corruption in the state remains a huge concern.

“The Rotimi Akeredolu government has in several ways demonstrated that it is irredeemably soaked in the sea of corruption, especially his family. He can, therefore, not go behind the door to institute laws as a subterfuge for his activities to circumvent the law.

“The powers given to the Attorney General of the state to regulate the operations of the Commission, if the bill is passed all point to a subtle legal cover to do more unthinkable damage to the treasury of the state,” he said.

“Given the antecedents of David Oloyelogun and the Ondo State 9th Assembly, there is nothing to expect other than a speedy passage of this bill. But we owe it a duty to inform the Ondo State people of this new move to provide cover for criminality.”

But in his reaction, the State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, said the opposition party lacks understanding about the bill and needed to be enlightened, saying the bill ought to have been passed over a year ago

Ojogo said: “The party’s latest attacks on Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu-led administration has exposed its ignorance.

“Specifically, the PDP’s claim that an anti-corruption bill is set to be passed by the State Assembly to allegedly protect the Governor and his family from wrongdoings is not only preposterous but laughable.

” It exposes the level of seriousness of a supposed opposition bereft of ideas, unwilling to obtain facts and self-cabined against information”

Ojogo explained that “the Bill for a law to establish the Ondo State Public Complaints, Financial Crime and Anti-corruption Commission and others connected thereto 2021 was deliberated upon at the level of the State Executive Council but was stepped down for wider consultations.

“At the moment, the memo has not received any Exco approval, and has, therefore, not been sent to the State House of Assembly. All the same, it is one Bill that shall be pursued to a logical conclusion.

“For the records, the Anti-Corruption Bill, when put in place, will serve the purpose of the State, rather than the warped imagination of the grossly deficient opposition.

“Those who started the formulation of the Law had in mind to decentralize the anti-corruption fight to the federating units of the Nigerian Federation. It suffices, therefore, that, the rush to disseminate falsehood appears more important to the opposition PDP than the need for a TRULY FEDERAL NIGERIA.

He said further “For the records, the Law has been in existence in Kano State since 2008. Lagos State followed suit by passing the Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Bill into Law. Aside from Lagos in the Southwest, the Law is in operation in Ogun and Oyo States. Interestingly, Oyo is a PDP governed State. Undoubtedly, Ondo PDP needs help.

More importantly, the Supreme Court has ruled that Section 46 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act should be construed within the narrow confines of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, the precursor to the establishment of the EFCC – to prevent illicit financial outflow from Nigeria.

“The matter centers on one of the issues of our true federalism. It interrogates the rationale behind a federal agency exercising oversight powers on States under the guise of financial crimes when each state has its Penal and Criminal Codes dealing with such offences”.

Faulting PDP’s claim, Ojogo said “the PDP in Ondo State, as usual, failed to do its findings, but hurriedly amplified falsehood and spurious gists to members of the public.

“While we agree that it is their stock in trade, it is important that this clarification be made in the overall interest of members of the public.

We will continue to do what is best for the people and the state notwithstanding the needless and fabricated allegations that are being fed members of the public by the drowning PDP.

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