Several of the government properties disposed by the past administrations were undervalued and sold at giveaway prices while deliberate policies were made to “enrich some individuals and syphon money out of the state”, a report of the Kwara State judicial commission of enquiry on sales of public assets has said.
Presenting the three-volume report to Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Wednesday in Ilorin, the state capital, chairman of the commission retired Justice Olabanji Orilonishe said discoveries during their assignment showed that the state was milked “to complete hopelessness and a standstill.”
He said many policies related to sale or management of public assets offered “avenues for reckless expenditure to enrich some individuals’”, lamenting that the state, owing largely to such practices, is the least developed of the 12 states created in 1967.
“This sad situation must change. The time to change it is now and not later,” he said, urging the new administration to muster the political will and courage to challenge some of the actions while only those found to be in order should stand.
The report is divided into three volumes, comprising the main report and recommendations; exhibits; and minutes of meetings and visitation report.
The panel visited Lagos, Abuja, and Kaduna in the course of its assignment, observing in part of the report that the sales of several public properties were often done in “secrecy” with only a few officials being privy to the deals.
AbdulRazaq commended the panel for their patriotic duties to the state, saying nothing can compensate for their sacrifices.
He said the need to visit the past was not to hound anyone but to ensure that such mistakes or excesses are not committed in the future, adding that the revelations so far from the past were enough reasons for the present public officials to act properly in the handling of public resources.
AbdulRazaq observed that members of the panel were subjected to social media blackmail during their assignment, saying there was no need for anyone to get jittery if they had not committed any grievous crimes against the state.
“We know some of your members were facing a lot of blackmail in the social media. We know we’ve done the right thing and selected the right people. That doesn’t matter. Fact and figure speak for themselves and the truth will also prevail. That’s where we stand,” he said.
“Essentially, justice will be done for the state,” AbdulRazaq said this in Ilorin when he received the three volumes report from the commission’s chairman Retired Justice Olabanji Orilonishe.
“You have done a very good job for the state and we are happy to receive the report. On our part, we did not interfere in any way or manner in the way you did your job. We are not out to witch-hunt anybody. We just want the right thing to be done in the state and we want proper templates set so that in future such things do not reoccur. We will also learn from this so that we don’t do the same thing.
“We appreciate you for the work you have done. I can assure you that your work is not in vain. Financially, we cannot pay you for what you have done, especially with the time line within which you have done the work. It is an assignment that ordinarily should take a whole year. We are grateful.”
The governor inaugurated the panel on August 11 to investigate the sales, disposal or unlawful acquisition of government properties from May 29, 1999 to May 29, 2019.