N1.1bn water contract scam: Deputy speaker in trouble as SERAP demands his prosecution
A human rights advocacy group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has called for the prosecution of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lasun Yusuff, over the allegation of N1.1bn water contract scam.
SERAP, in a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, urged the Acting Chairmen of both the Code of Conduct Bureau and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to jointly investigate the alleged fraud committed by Yusuff.
The group alleged that Yusuff used his personal company to win water contracts amounting to about N1.1bn from the Ministry of Water Resources.
SERAP in its petition to the CCB and ICPC dated June 8, 2018 said, “Investigating the allegations and prosecuting all those suspected to be involved would indicate your agencies’ willingness to exert your authorities and act as a deterrent against breaches of the code of conduct provisions, Nigeria’s anti-corruption legislation and international standards.”
“Public officials allegedly securing to themselves and/or their companies and family members privileges rightly belonging to the public by by-passing or manipulating the formal procedures necessary for the award of these privileges is a textbook case of conflict of interest.”
The group, however, expressed concern that Yusuff’s alleged act suggested abuse of his position as a lawmaker, and apparent conflict of interest in the exercise of his legislative functions to promote the commercial and other interests of his own company, Nur and Company Nigeria limited.
The petition read in part, “Bidding and winning the water project contract and the alleged mismanagement and/or stealing ofabout N1.1 bn meant to execute the project may have violated constitutional provisions and international standards on the code of conduct for public officers and the Public Procurement Act.
“SERAP notes that the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party prohibit conflict of interests and set ethical standards for public officers, including lawmakers. Both the Constitution and the Convention require public officers to abstain from all acts that may compromise the exercise of their public functions and are inconsistent with their entrusted positions.”
“Under article 19 of the convention, abuse of functions refers to a public official that is doing something which is illegal or something that the official has no legal authority to do, to obtain a personal economic benefit or cause an illegal damage to others. Article 13 requires the maintenance of transparent, competitive and efficient procurement systems as part of the measures against corruption.”
“Public officers also must discharge their public duties truthfully and faithfully, abide by the constitutional code of conduct, observe the primacy of public interest, and not allow their personal interest to influence their official conduct. SERAP believes that rather than serving the common interest of the public, the use of the personal and family company–Nur and Company Nigeria limited—to win over N1 bn water project contract would seem to put Mr Yusuff in a conflict of interest situation.
“Conflict of interest represents a situation where the person exercising a public function such as law-making duties has a personal interest of patrimonial or commercial nature, which could influence the objective fulfilment of the duties incumbent on public officers.
“The allegations of abuse of office and corruption have denied the communities affected the right of access to safe drinking water and sanitation, thereby exacerbating unequal access to drinking water and sanitation for the people of the constituency and Osun State in general. Such allegations also violate the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which guarantees the right to an adequate standard of living including the rights to water and sanitation. Nigeria has ratified the Covenant.
“According to reports, the Deputy Speaker allegedly used his personal company to win contracts amounting to about N1.1 bn from the Federal Government through the Ministry of Water Resources. Lasun, during his first term in the House, used his personal company – Nur and Company Nigeria limited, to bid and win two mini-water schemes in Osun State, as advertised on behalf of the ministry by the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority.
“According to reports, searches at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), allegedly revealed that Nur and Company Limited belongs to the Deputy Speaker as a director, with his wife – Mrs. Omowunmi Rasheeda Yusuff and his three children – Ayomide, Feyisara and Rasheeda – also serving as shareholders and directors.”Punch