Mr. Rafiu Balogun, Counsel to ex-governor of Ekiti State and Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, yesterday accused the Ekiti State Government and its top officials of deliberately frustrating efforts to obtain the report of the Ekiti State Panel that indicted the former Governor, more than a week after the document had been made public with the release of the White Paper.
But Lanre Ogunsuyi, Commissioner for Information, Youths and Sports Development has dismissed his claims as deliberate effort to blackmail the state government, stating that the panel’s report is a public document that is available to him anytime he requests for it.
Balogun told journalists in Ado-Ekiti yesterday that he had applied for a certified copy of the report of the panel through a written application to the offices of the Ekiti State Attorney General and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), as directed by the Secretary to the Commission.
He claimed that letters to the two top officials which were dated January 11th, were received on January 12th, but according to him, there has been no response from the government, despite repeated calls to the offices.
Balogun said the panel’s report is one of the important documents needed in the case being instituted by the former Governor to challenge the outcome of the panel, which barred him and a former Commissioner from holding public office for ten years among others.
Reacting, Ogunsuyi said: ” document is a public one. That allegation itself by the lawyer and the former governor is another effort to paint the state government in bad light while they are trying to escape the consequences of their fraudulent acts while in office. I am sure that everybody in the state including, journalists have this document. It is in public domain.
“You are aware that by antecedents, Fayemi even refused to appear during the sitting of the panel. I don’t know what the lawyer is saying by alleging that government is frustrating his effort to get the document. I am saying now that he should come , he will have it. If he is claiming that he has come before, he should come again, we will give him the document. It is a government gazette that is obtainable under the freedom of information bill. So, he should come and have it, he will have it.”
Speaking further, Fayemi’s legal counsel said the government does not have any justifiable reason to block efforts by the Minister’s counsel or any citizen from accessing the panel’s report, even after it had been made public.
Balogun said: “When we got the news from the print and electronic media that the Commission of Inquiry had submitted its report to Ekiti State Government on 13th December, 2017, our Clients Dr Kayode Fayemi and Hon. Dapo Kolawole briefed us to do the needful and get the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the Report from the Registry of the Commission. To that effect, we caused a letter to be written to the Secretary to the Commission Mr Gbenga Daramola, (DPP Ekiti State) but he asserted that having submitted the report to Governor the commission had concluded its assignment and wound up. He therefore directed us to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG).
“We quickly wrote to the SSG on the 11th of January, 2018 and it was received on 12th January. We also wrote to the Attorney General Ekiti State requesting for the report since he chairs the Committee to review the report and advise Government on the White Paper. The content of our letters to the duo is clear and unambiguous. We gave the officials seven days to make available the CTC of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry and other documents submitted by the Commission.
“Our representative had at various time called at the offices of the SSG and AG to follow up but he was told that the two senior government officials were not available and that he should return the visit on Monday, January 22nd. The officials were also evasive when our representative went to request for the report on Monday.
“We are not pleased with the lackadaisical attitude of the Ekiti State Government to a simple request for CTC of the Report in their custody, even when we have informed them of our readiness to pay the requisite fee for production and certification.
“What does it take to produce and certify the report? It is in the public domain now that the Government has accepted the Report of the Commission of Inquiry by issuance of White Paper and requested our clients to return some money when the Commission did not find them guilty of fraud or embezzlement of any contract sum and it was not found that they have any interest in any Company that they claimed did not execute the projects.
“Our Clients were also purportedly barred from holding public office for 10 years. Are they not entitled to the Report as of right? We wonder why the government is afraid of releasing the Report.” Balogun stressed.