My Participations: How Omisore Was Impeached Over Alleged $1.5m Water Chemical Contract Fraud

– IleriOluwa Camp Grumbles

THE governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the 2018 governorship election in the State of Osun, Senator Iyiola Omisore, has been at the centre of political discourse in the state and the country at large in the last one week.

This is as a result of the gale of revelations espoused by his former boss and second civilian governor of Osun, Chief Adebisi Akande in his autobiography, “My Participations,” presented to the public in Lagos last week Thursday.

Akande, in the book, explained the roles played by Omisore before and during his tenure as the state governor, as well as activities which led to his impeachment in December, 2002.

The former Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said Omisore crept into his life as a silent malignant cancer and later turned to a Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing with his alleged fraudulent deals and efforts to impeach him.

Akande also alleged in his book that Omisore led thugs to harass and remove the cap from the head of former Minister of Power and Steel and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige when he came for a programme in Ile-Ife. 

How Omisore Became Akande’s Deputy

In chapter 19 of the book, (page 255-268), Akande narrated how he met Omisore in August, 1998 through his late Personal Assistant, Biyi Adedotun-Yekini in Lagos, who was supporting the Ife born politician on his governorship ambition under the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in preparation for the January 1999 general elections.

Akande stated that he settled for Omisore’s choice for Deputy because of his popularity in Ife and his background of Engineering which gave him an edge over Mr. Niyi Owolade, a lawyer and Prince Damola Aderemi – the son of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Adesoji Aderemi.

He said: “Iyiola Omisore crept into my life like a silent malignant cancer. He came in full force. In a few months, I thought I knew him. I regret I did not know him in his true colours.

“On the evening of Thursday, August 13, 1998, Omisore accompanied by Yekini-popularly known as Biyi Adedotun, came to my house at Adetola Street, in Aguda Quarter of Surulere, Lagos. 

“Yekini introduced his companion for me as Otunba Iyiola Omisore – alias Chrisore – the doyen of engineering, from Ile-Ife, Osun State. There was an aura of sweet and calm smile on Omisore’s face. He appeared to me young and attractive, about the age of some of my children, but looked deceptively shy and politically innocent to me. 

“Since then, he started visiting me regularly in Lagos and Ila, and calling me Baba while I called him Iyiola. Every place in my home, including my bedrooms. Was made accessible to him even though I did not bother to know his house or wherever he might have been coming from. 

“Having been nominated by the Alliance for Democracy as governorship candidate, I had to choose a running mate from Ife/Ijesa Senatorial District, according to the constitutional zoning arrangement.

“Certain things finally influenced my decision. I was over 60 years of age and preferred a much younger person as my running mate. Niyi Owolade, Damola Aderemi and Iyiola Omisore were similarly so young. Even though all of them seemed sufficiently educated, I had assumed, as I was told, that lyiola Omisore read engineering at the Imperial College, London. 

“Engineering, being a contrast to my own training in Finance and Accounts, seemed to me more unique than law, which Aderemi and Owolade read. And I wanted to experiment such combination of engineering and financial experts in governance. By that theory of elimination, I was already developing preference for lyiola Omisore.

“On Monday, December 28, 1998, I called Iyiola Omisore and his friend, Kunle Alao alias ‘Lele’ to my cousin’s pharmacy store named Adetola Chemists at Igbona area of Osogbo. I made it clear to Iyiola that the general perception of the party leadership was that he was a suspected advanced fee fraudster and a certificate forger. I made references to some of the cases against him in courts, including that of Col. Laoye from Ede. 

“I said however, that no one had told me if he had ever been convicted of any crime. I declared to him that I was prepared to let him be part of the AD governorship ticket but warned him to ensure that he completed the necessary forms with honesty and sincerity, I begged him to include and attach only his genuine educational qualifications and certificates. ‘If it is only Primary Six certificate you have, that is the one you should use’, I told him. ‘please, don’t use any certificate that is forged’, I pleaded. 

“He said his certificate were burnt during the Ife-Modakeke crisis. Then, I told him to please use the one that was not burnt. Thereafter, having committed myself to Otunba Iyiola Omisore, I began to rebuff all subsequent protests against his choice. 

“When I nominated him as my running mate, I had banked on him that he would be my successor and that I only needed to groom him properly for the daunting task of governance. As I was mentored by Chief Ige, I thought I had a duty to also mentor Omisore. 

“I had planned to spend only one term in office and I believed that, with four years of proper exposure and mentorship, he would be ready. But Omisore was ready right from the start for something less noble. By the time we came to government, all the pretences were off. I knew I was dealing with a wolf in wolf’s clothing. I was alarmed by his way of spending money.”

Omisore And The $1.5m Water Chemical Contract

Akande, however said things went sour between them when Omisore wanted him to partake in an alleged contract fraud of the supply of water chemicals to the Ministry of Water Resources to the tune of $1.5 million which he refused. 

The former governor of the state disclosed that the contract was awarded under the military administration of Brigadier Theophilus Bamigboye who Omisore was close to but was not implemented before he took over.

He said: “I was quick to conclude, shortly after we came into office, that Iyiola Omisore would be a big problem for my government. His spending propensity was ravenous. His ambition was inordinate and he was prepared to go to any extent and employ any weapon no matter how dastardly or devilish to achieve his objectives. He showed his hands early enough during the transition period.

“I became very suspicious of him and his intentions, and I was on my guard. 

“One day, he walked into my office. He took a blank sheet on my table, wrote 85 boldly at the centre and circled it. ‘Sir, please take. That is N85 million,’ he said. I didn’t understand it. Then, he left my office. Choosing his time and words carefully after all these preliminaries, that was how Omisore brought to my notice, in piece-meal, the matter of this contract of $1,500,000.00, which the out-gone military administrator, Col. T.O. Bamigboye, awarded. 

“He said the contract of $1.5 million was approved by the former military administrator for the purchase of chemicals for the use of Osun State Ministry of Water Resources. He said even though Chrisore Engineering was the official agent of Hybart, all of us would benefit from the largesse. He promised me N85 million as my own share. He said my predecessor, Brigadier Bamigboye, would also have a share of $300,000.00. There was no way I could verify this, since he might just be mentioning names in order to impress me. I did not buy his story.

“I made him realise that it was unfortunate that the military did not conclude the business by fiat, in their traditional wont, before they left. I explained that in the spirit of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, the Governor was not in a position to approve payment of such huge amount without the concurrence and express authorisation of the State Executive Council. 

“I therefore advised him to present his claim on the matter in the form of a memorandum to the State Executive Council. He thereafter submitted a memorandum dated August 23, 1999 to the state executive Council. The memorandum was taken by the council on September 22, 1999.

“He was getting agitated by my insistence on taking the constitutional steps to safeguard the resources of Osun State. At the State Executive Council, a cabinet committee headed by the Attorney-General was mandated to advise government on how to handle such delicate transactions.

“In the committee’s findings, it was reported that in a letter referenced SSG/27/T/1 dated November 10, 1998, the Military Administrator of Osun State, Col. T. A. Bamigboye, made application to the Head of State and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for foreign exchange approval for the sum of US $2,998.129.75 for procurement of water treatment chemicals. 

“The approval was granted for only $1.5 million instead of $2,998,129,75 by the Federal Military Government on November 29, 1998. On March 15, 1999, a letter dated March 5, 1999, together with a UTB Banker’s Draft for N33,330,000.00 dated March 8, 1999, and a Proforma Invoice for water chemicals from Hybart/Chrisore Ltd. dated December 7, 1998 was handed to the State Accountant-General – Elder Remi Adegbola, by a staff of Chrisore Engineering Limited. The Proforma Invoice carried a total price of $1,426,803.36.

“Already, a Letter of Credit had been opened in Hybart Limited’s name. In the contract, Messrs. Hybart Limited were purported to be situated at 133 Pread Street, London, in the United Kingdom. Alas, the address in London was impossible to locate! Also, the available photocopy certificate of the company indicated that the company was registered somewhere in the Archipelagos of the Caribbean Sea called British Virgin Island.

“On further investigation, Virgin Island was reported to be notorious for drug pushing and financial frauds. Chrisore Engineering Ltd, which was said to have been owned by Iyiola Omisore, claimed to be the agent of Hybart Limited with regards to the contract between Osun State and the firm. 

“Consequent upon the recommendation of the Cabinet Committee, it was decided that in the public interest and for the sake of prudence, accountability and transparency, the beneficiary of the Letter of Credit be changed from Hybart/Chrisore to any other person whose terms and conditions were acceptable to government.

“In the end, the total cost of these water chemicals, as required by the Ministry of Water Resources, was N86,854,119.45 including import duties, warehousing and other ancillary charges as against N230,553,654.00 which the products would have cost if imported by Hybart/Chrisore under the original Letter of Credit. This represented a saving to government of a total sum of N143,655,534.55.

“In the meantime, government decided to refund the sum of N33,330,000.00 sourced by Chrisore Engineering Ltd. in favour of Hybart, from Universal Trust Bank being the 10% deposit that served as a condition to facilitate the opening of the original letter of credit.”

How Akande Escaped Omisore’s Impeachment Plot

Akande retorted that the ripples from the canceled contract and creation of Modakeke Area office, heightened the disagreements with his deputy and resulted into the eventual attempt to impeach him by the lawmakers in the state House of Assembly as plotted by Omisore.

He disclosed: “Unfortunately, the following month, a decision to create Modakeke Area office was taken by my government on October 30, 2000. Soon after these two incidents, on November 1, 2000, the Osun State House of Assembly began proceedings to impeach me as governor. 

“It was a period of heavy national politics and our party, the AD, was fighting for its soul. The party was subverted from within and attacked from without. The plot to remove me through impeachment or other means was getting thicker. 

“I learnt that Omisore was receiving a lot of support and comfort from Governor Adefarati and some other centres outside Osun State. He believed it was only a matter of time that I would be impeached and he would become the Governor.  

“Governor Niyi Adebayo of Ekiti State called and said he would like to see me on the matter. He came to the Government House, Osogbo, with Omisore. He said the two of us should agree to stop the impeachment. Omisore was boasting that I had offended him and that impeachment was my punishment. Adebayo stared at him. Omisore was apparently drunk or under some influence. 

“The House of Assembly may have found common cause with Omisore because of money. The members complained that we did not give them money and cars. We could not because we simply did not have money. Besides, the budget for 1999 had been prepared by the military before we came and it was handed over to us.

“What occurred to me when I received the notice of impeachment was to pack my load and personal effects and leave Government House. We had 23 members of the AD in the 26-member House and 24 members signed the Notice of Impeachment. Only one opposed. The lone one was Prince Omolaoye from Egbedore. 

“I was not perturbed by all the intimidations and I was prepared to fight on principles and if the impeachment was carried out, I was prepared to go home. 

“Yekini Adedotun, the man who introduced Omisore to me, was now the Chairman of Ila Local Government. He wanted to see me, but I was reluctant to see him. I finally received him at the government house. Adedotun remonstrated with me that I should call some of his friends in the House of Assembly to find a way out of the impeachment threat. I told him I would not beg anyone to remain in office. Finally, I agreed to meet five of them: Sooko Lekan Omidiora from Ife, Kamaru Lawal from Olorunda, Femi Popoola from Boluwaduro, Engr. Moshood Olayiwola from Osogbo and our man from Ila, Joshua Adediji.

“Our meeting was brief. They wondered why I did not invite the House members for an amicable settlement. I told them my mind was already made up to vacate and that I had packed my things out of the government house. ‘Did you see any load here anymore?’ I asked them. They were surprised. ‘are you prepared to go?’ ‘Did I want to come in the first instance?’

“I dawned on them that once I left, Omisore would become the governor as stipulated by the constitution. They said if they failed to toe his line, might he not be sending thugs after them? If that is your lot, did I have any other choices?’ I asked them. 

“They said they had only planned to rattle me and expected to reach them and negotiate. They remonstrated me that I should call the Speaker. I called the speaker and we agreed to meet the following morning. He came with the original team of five. We discussed extensively and they advised that I should write to the house to suspend action for a further task. 

“I wrote a one paragraph letter and handed it over to the speaker. The speaker promised that they would take the issue to the house at plenary session if their caucus disagree. The issues became acrimonious at the caucus. They disagreed and split. At the house plenary meeting, in the end, 13 voted in my favour. Twelve voted for my impeachment. The 12 brought thugs to the house and the 13 were beaten up and their vehicles destroyed. 

“The attempt to impeach me was finally frustrated by loyal and patriotic members of the house.”

Why Omisore Was Impeached

Akande explained in the book that Omisore was impeach for alleged fraudulent activities on the water chemicals contract narrated earlier in this report. 

The former governor said: “There was a published statement in the Comet newspaper of Tuesday, January 30 2001, titled, ‘My Case against Akande by Omisore, where Omisore granted a press interview to accuse Chief Bola Ige of scheming a second term bid for me. He also accused me and the Commissioner for Finance  – Chief Lere Adebayo, of mismanaging the $1.5 million allocated to Osun State in March 1999 by the Federal Military Government for the procurement of water chemicals. He alleged that both of us allowed the contractor to dupe the government of about $2 million.

“In a rejoinder to this press blackmail submitted to the Honourable Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, the Commissioner for Finance, Chief Lere Adebayo wondered if it were possible for any government to be duped of $2 million out of a total business of $1.5 million! 

“In a suit No HOS/28/2001 of Hybart Limited and Chrisore Engineering Ltd. (Plaintiffs) versus Osun State Government and others, before his Lordship, Honourable Justice O.Oluborode – Chief Judge of Osun State, on Tuesday, the 24th day of July, 2001. The court agreed with the defendants that the whole transaction was illegal and tainted with fraud. 

“The court thereby ruled (according to Companies & Allied Matters Act 1990) that Hybart Limited had no legal existence to enter into contract in Nigeria and that there was no evidence before the court to show that Hybart entered into the contract through Chrisore Engineering Ltd. as an Agent. 

“This case was eventually investigated by the House of Assembly as part of its oversight functions and Iyiola Omisore was indicted and consequently impeached by the House in December 2002.

“The Osun State legislature served Omisore the necessary notices of impeachment. All the legislators on our side were taken to lyin Ekiti and lodged in the country home of Governor Adebayo’s father, General Adeyinka Adebayo, who was once the military governor of the defunct Western State. 

“We had to do this because some of the legislators were afraid that they could be assassinated. They alleged that Omisore had a squad of eight fully armed men who were always in his entourage. We learnt that the eight non-uniform men were given instruction to harm some people on the day of the impeachment so that there would be chaos and nothing could be done. 

“We ensured the safety for the movement of the lawmakers from Ekiti to Osogbo and they arrived in town around 4 a.m. and moved to a rendezvous provided on the premises of Senator Bayo Salami’s residence.

“There, they had breakfast and lunch. The Speaker moved to his office early in the day to prepare the necessary documents. The impeachment panel headed by the judge submitted its report that Friday. Most people, including Omisore, were not aware that the lawmakers were in town. 

“The news of the submission of the report was on the radio when the legislators moved to the Assembly chamber and impeached the Deputy Governor. The process was handled very smoothly.

“Omisore thought the impeachment would be done on Monday. He was seen driving round Osogbo that Friday with his long convoy, including his armed thugs. President Obasanjo tried to stop the impeachment. He was shocked when confronted with the impeachment documentations to enable the police arrest and investigate Omisore on Bola Ige’s assassination. 

“For more than three weeks after his impeachment, Omisore still had the full complement of armed policemen following him. The Commissioner of Police was helpless about the situation knowing the position of the Presidency.”

Disquiet In Ilerioluwa Camp

Since the launch of the book, there has been a growing disquiet in the Governor Adegboyega Oyetola led-IleriOluwa camp of the APC in the State of Osun as members of the group including Omisore, a powerful member of the group are yet to speak on the allegations levelled against the former Deputy Governor in Akande book.

Findings by OSUN DEFENDER revealed that leaders of the group are unsettled with Akande’s revelation of Omisore who is an ally of Governor Oyetola.

According to findings, Oyetola facilitated the induction of Omisore into the APC Elders Caucus, known as Agba Osun.

It was gathered that neither the Governor, the Ife born politician nor their followers could react to Chief Akande’s position bearing in mind that a response may cause a friction between Oyetola and the elder statesman.

The medium learnt that members of the IleriOluwa camp have continued to grumble over the development which they said was needless owing to the current political calculations.

They lamented that Akande’s position on Omisore has justified why the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has continued to distance himself from the former senator.

According to some of them who spoke with OSUN DEFENDER under condition of anonymity, Akande has done a damage to Omisore’s integrity, wondering if such man could lead election campaign for Oyetola in 2022. 

However, some members of the APC who do not belong to the Governor’s camp and were privy to the incidents Akande narrated in his book backed his position, lauding him for summoning the courage to speak the truth about Omisore in spite of being a member of his party, APC.

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