THE African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has urged the Nigerian anti-graft agencies to thoroughly investigate the allegations by the impeached chairman of Ijebu East Local Government Area, Adewale Adebayo against Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun.
The Centre also asked the governor to stop ‘persecuting’ the embattled former chairman.
In a statement signed by its project manager, Godwin Onyeacholem, on Wednesday, September 27, AFRICMIL urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate Adebayo’s allegations.
Adedayo was impeached on September 15 by his council councillors over allegations of financial misappropriation and diversion of council funds, among others levelled against him.
Announcing his impeachment, the LGA’s legislative council leader, Fasheyi Akindele, said the “suspended chairman owned up before the full House of 11 councillors that he diverted federal allocations sent to the council by the state government and used them for purposes other than what the state government approved.
“Adedayo also agreed that he spent the council funds till August 2023, even when the budget was yet to be approved, whereas the law only allows him to spend till March 2023.”
He also listed a few other infractions against the embattled chairman.
The councillors had first suspended the chairman for three months, citing alleged maladministration and financial malpractices. The suspension followed the chairman’s letter to a former governor, accusing the current governor of misappropriating N10.8 billion for local development and lodging a petition with anti-graft agencies.
Meanwhile, the embattled council chair has since been arraigned before an Ogun State Magistrates’ Court in Isabo, Abeokuta.
He was arraigned on two counts bordering on false allegations and willful intent to damage Abiodun’s reputation.
Although he had pleaded not guilty, the police told the court that Adedayo acted in violation of sections 59(1) and 375 of the Criminal Code Laws of Ogun State, 2006.
AFRICMIL’s coordinator, Chido Onumah, said it was inappropriate for the governor to punish Adedayo merely for demanding transparency and accountability in local government funds.
Onumah emphasized that the sacked council chairman should not face current penalties, arguing further that he committed no offence other than exercising his freedom of expression.
“AFRICMIL, which is in the forefront of promoting whistleblowing as a vital tool for addressing corrupt practices and other forms of wrongdoing, described Adedayo’s action as legitimate whistleblowing which Nigeria sorely needs at this time. The organization observed that it was ‘immoral and unlawful’ for the governor to deploy a strategy of intimidation to stop the whistleblower from speaking out against wrongdoing at the top level of governance.
“Following the furore that trailed the whistleblower’s allegations, he was first suspended for three months as chairman of Ijebu East Local Government Area and then impeached even when the suspension had barely kicked off. Days after vowing that Adedayo would pay for ‘making false allegations’ against him, the governor made good his threat by getting the police to arraign the whistleblower. “We are not unmindful of the fact that all of this is part of the intimidation to completely silence the whistleblower,” the statement added.
The organisation, however, urged the governor to stop any additional ‘retaliation’ against the whistleblower promptly.
It also called for his immediate reinstatement as the LGA chairman and the withdrawal of the court case filed against him.
The organisation reiterated its commitment to demand justice for all whistleblowers facing adverse actions for exposing wrongdoing in the country, adding that “whistleblowing is freedom of expression that must be protected.”