Buruji Kashamu, a former senator representing Ogun East Senatorial district, has accused the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) of being mischievous over its claim that it recovered three ambulances and 500KVA Transformer, which were meant for the former senator’s constituency, from him.
The ICPC had claimed that the items were recovered after a tip-off about them from a concerned citizen. It added that the items were recovered from the Mr Kashamu’s constituency project office in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State.
“The three ambulances which were procured at the cost of N6 million each, were meant to be supplied to Obada Healthcare Centre, Oke Sopin in Ijebu North Local Government Area; Community Health Centre, Itele in Ijebu East Local Government Area; and Community Health Centre, Ogijo in Sagamu Local Government Area respectively.”
“The transformer is the last of an initial eleven meant for distribution to various communities of Ogun East Senatorial District which were procured at the cost of N3.6m each, bringing the total for the entire eleven transformers to N39.5 million,” the agency said.
But Mr Buruji Kashamu through a statement by his media aide, Austin Oniyokor, fired back at the anti-graft agency describing their claim as “mischievous”.
The senator said the items were not recovered by the ICPC but they were handed over to ICPC officials at his constituency office in Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State.
“The items were delivered to the Constituency office in Ijebu-Igbo by the contractors late in 2017.”
Mr Buruji Kashamu blamed his failure to execute the projects on his former legislative aide, Onadeko Onamusi, who he alleged “abused his position and influenced the award of 18 out of the 21 constituency projects to two of his (the SLA’s) companies – Stanton Nigeria Limited and Haines & Baines Nigeria Limited.”
He claimed that having disclosed this, he sacked Mr Onamusi and referred the matter to the ICPC, which has since investigated the matter, arrested and charged Mr Onamusi to court.
“The ICPC said Onamusi’s actions violated sections 12 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.
“After the former lawmaker pleaded not guilty to the charges, his lawyer, Wahab Olatoye, pleaded with the court to grant him bail to enable him to attend to his health, having just returned from England where he had gone to seek medical attention.
“But the prosecuting counsel for the ICPC, Ephraim Otti, opposed the bail application, saying that it took the commission more than a year to track the ex-lawmaker, after he allegedly jumped an administrative bail granted him.
“The judge, while adjourning until December 10, 2018 for ruling on Onamusi’s bail application, ordered that the ex-lawmaker should be returned to the custody of the ICPC.
“So, for any objective mind, it should not be difficult to understand that there was no way the distribution of the items could have continued since they had become a subject of litigation and could be used as evidence. It is even more so when part of the senator’s complaint was that the contractor supplied Volvo hearse instead of supplying ambulances.
“This was the situation until Senator Kashamu served out his term of office in June 2019.”
Mr Kashamu said it “is shameful that the same agency that got Onamusi arrested, investigated and charged to court over the same items could turn round to claim recovery of the items that had been reported to it on the basis of some unfounded “intelligence”.
The former senator, who is wanted in the U.S. for an unrelated drug case, did not say how constituency project items which should have been delivered straight to beneficiaries by relevant government agencies, ended in his office.
Mr Kashamu joins a growing list of former and serving lawmakers from whom materials paid for by public funds and meant for constituents were recovered. Others include a former Akwa Ibom governor, Godswill Akpabio, and Chukwuka Utazi, who represents Enugu North in the Senate. Both men were later allowed to distribute the items by the ICPC despite calls for their prosecution.