The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has called on anti-corruption agencies in the country for necessary investigation of fraud allegation rocking the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
In a release issued by CACOL and signed by Mr Tola Oresanwo, the anti-corruption organization’s Coordinator, Administration and Programmes on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran, he stated, “It would be recalled that Fraud running into hundreds of millions of naira has been reportedly uncovered in the Lagos State Waste Management Authority. The Punch newspaper reported that the beneficiaries were some contractors, who engaged street sweepers for the cleaning of Lagos roads. It was learnt that due to the connection of some of the culprits, who are mostly politicians, there was fear nothing would be done about the discovery. It was also reported that a former Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of LAWMA, Dr Muyiwa Gbadegesin, was said to have been removed as storms gathered on allegations of fraud in the system. It was also reported that the running cost of LAWMA rose from about N540m to N1bn and the governor, who wanted to save money, asked the former Managing Director to step aside for an audit while the new Managing Director, Mr Ibrahim Odumboni, was asked to oversee the process.
“The report, detailed how the management of the agency had been siphoning public funds through corrupt practices of padded wage bills by contractors of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority and passed the cost to government as the salaries of their workers”.
“The PUNCH reported that trouble started when auditors got to the Ikorodu area to verify claims made by the contractor in charge of the route. She (contractor) was identified as Iron Lady and allegedly had 66 routes assigned to her. The woman, it was said, claimed to have 2,310 workers. The auditors discovered that most of the names submitted by the woman to collect money were non-existent, while a number of the routes were unkempt. Based on the figures she submitted to the government, her company was collecting over N80m monthly from LAWMA. On the appointed day, only half of the number she gave showed up for verification. In some cases, a sweeper would be discovered to own several phones documented under different names”.
The report also has it that the audit was only one week old when a protest broke out among the street sweepers, who claimed that they had not been paid for several months.
The CACOL boss also said “from our direct interactions with some of the sweepers in the State the Punch story is not far from the truth. It is also noteworthy that the Commissioner for the Environment also corroborated the Punch story by saying “there was no reason why the Agency should owe the sweepers because their funding comes directly from the Ministry of Finance”.
The anti-graft czar added, “Considering the strategic and critical role of the agency in the maintenance of cleanliness in the State, we are seriously concerned about the enormity of corruption going on in the waste management authority in the State. We, therefore, call on the anti-corruption agencies to quickly wade into the matter now with a view to sanitizing it and bring those responsible for the alleged fraud to book so as to serve as a deterrent to others while maintaining a cleaner environment for all Lagosians”.
“We, therefore, make a clarion call for the immediate handing over of the former Managing Director of the Agency to the ICPC or EFCC to answer for the allegations. The laxity, mediocrity and ineptitude he brought on LAWMA are the reasons why everywhere was flooded during the week and a few lives and property were lost irretrievably”.
“We also call on the State Commissioner for Environment to as a matter of urgency constitute an emergency Drainage De-silting Exercise to safe people from imminent floods as heavier rains are still expected before the last quarter of the year”.
Mr Tola Oresanwo
Coordinator, Administration and Programmes