In News by Oluwaseun Samuel on the 15th, June, 2020

Shock As Alleged Large Fraud Is Uncovered In LAWMA

Shock As Alleged Massive Fraud Is Uncovered In LAWMA

LAWMA

Shock As Alleged Large Fraud Is Uncovered In LAWMA

A whole bunch of tens of millions of naira have been found to have been allegedly defrauded on the Lagos State Waste Administration Authority, LAWMA.

The lid which sensationally blew off huge racketeering on the company, was sequel to an investigation of the forensic audit of LAWMA, following info by a gaggle of whistleblowers, recognized as “Involved LAWMA operators.”

Collection of shady offers which bumped into a number of million has led to bleeding of the State’s treasury.

Statutorily, LAWMA’s temporary consists of oversight of PSP operators, sweepers of highways, clearing of marine waste and market administration, in addition to the de-silting of the first and secondary drainage.

No fewer than 600 operators are accredited by LAWMA and so they, in flip, make use of greater than 16,000 sweepers and a whole lot of supervisors. Or, so it’s acknowledged within the books.

The alleged sleaze particularly concerned the padding of the wage invoice for freeway sweepers and their supervisors for a number of months by a cartel led by a girl, (name-withheld) however merely recognized as “Iron Woman.” She was stated to benefit from the backing of some highly effective political actors within the state.

The 66 routes the “Iron Woman” managed successfully put her share of the Lagos waste market at greater than 10 p.c.

To make sure that there was sufficient money to feed the guzzling elephant, funds budgeted to handle different crucial like marine service, public transport, drainage de-silting and used tyres clearance had been stated to have been cleverly transformed into offsetting the bogus and ever-rising wage payments, thereby leaving these equally important must endure.

Apparently, final month, the state authorities relieved Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin of duties as Managing Director/CEO of the company and named Mr. Ibrahim Odumboni in appearing capability.

Each Gbadegesin and Odumboni had been appointed final yr by the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration with the intent to restoring LAWMA again to the unique masterplan and cleansing up the mess left within the waste administration sector because of the “disastrous romance” the previous administration of Governor Ambode entered into with Visionscape.

Whereas the previous got here from ICT background, the latter had a wealthy expertise within the monetary sector and was head-hunted from a top-notch monetary establishment in the UK.

Although no official causes got for Gbadegesin’s exit in Might, our investigations revealed that Sanwo-Olu, a no-nonsense Governor with zero tolerance for sloppiness or corruption, took the motion to permit unimpeded forensic audit of the company following safety reviews cataloguing shady offers and primitive looting of LAWMA’s treasury.


Alleged Intimidation, Sponsored Protest

The whistleblowers complained that “Iron Woman” had forcibly hijacked routes concessioned to them initially by LAWMA by unleashing thugs on their employees on responsibility and dropping her highly effective connections to intimidate them.

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Their resolution to spill the beans was apparently triggered by displeasure at what was described as “an orchestrated marketing campaign of disinformation in a piece of the social media” capped with a protest by “a rented crowd of ladies” on the State Home, Marina, Lagos, on the weekend.

The protesters, all girls, it was gathered had claimed they had been freeway sweepers and complained of being owed a backlog of 4 months wages.

Whereas all had been chanting solidarity songs, some threatened to strip themselves right-away to embarrass the governor. It took the donation of an unspecified quantity and a passionate plea by the safety personnel on floor earlier than they could possibly be dispersed.

In response to a supply, intriguingly, no sooner had they dispersed from the Marina State Home round 2 P.M than they regrouped in entrance of the governor’s household compound at Omididun Avenue, close to the palace of Oba of Lagos on Lagos Island, fueling suspicion of being tele-guided.

Dissociating themselves from what they described because the “present of disgrace,” the “Involved LAWMA operators” stated, “To the perfect of our data, real freeway sweepers are being owed for the month of Might solely.

“The rationale for the delay is due to the current change of management at LAWMA. To inform the reality, the brand new management had cleared the backlog incurred by Gbadegesin nearly as quickly as they assumed workplace. We consider it is a sponsored protest to distract public consideration and blackmail the brand new administration from sustaining the continuing audit of LAWMA which has revealed a variety of skeletons within the cabinet.”

Particularly, the “Involved LAWMA Operators” alleged that greater than half of the full of 66 “prime” routes managed by the “Iron Woman” had been initially allotted to them in the course of the management of Dr. Ola Oresanya however “later snatched from us with the usage of thugs armed with harmful weapons.”

In response to their spokesman, who craved anonymity, “For the avoidance of doubt, we want to state that we’re are in complete help of the continuing audit of wage funds made by LAWMA within the final one yr.

“Nevertheless, the explanation why we’re crying out now’s as a result of we reliably gathered that authorities auditors have visited a few of our areas however found ghosts had been accumulating salaries all these months with out doing any job.

“However the fact of the matter is that some folks had been utilizing the identify of our routes to gather cash from LAWMA. It’s very simple to establish those that had been accumulating such cash. Their financial institution accounts have names.

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“We’re conscious that after the verification train at Ikorodu, the subsequent port of name within the coming days might be routes on Lagos Island in addition to Victoria Island. We consider these sponsored protests are to blackmail LAWMA from forging forward with the audit lest extra skeletons be uncovered.
“We due to this fact passionately attraction to the auditors to not be dissuaded or intimidated within the identify of Lagos taxpayers and beg the state governor to direct the brand new M.D to revive our routes that had been hijacked from us.”


Concerted efforts to achieve the “Iron Woman” for her response had been unsuccessful as at press time. Her workplace situated at No. 72, Oja Oba, Adeniji Adele Street, Lagos was beneath lock and key on three events when visited.

However a supply near her volunteered this: “Sure, it’s true that Madam has had some points with them at LAWMA in current time. However I can guarantee you that issues are being sorted out and Madam will certainly bounce again and put her enemies to disgrace.”

How Fraud Was Carried Out

For efficient statewide protection, LAWMA delineates the 20 councils and 37 improvement areas into routes and allocates such to licensed operators who, in flip, make use of and assign sweepers and a supervisor on every route.

A sweeper earns a flat wage of N25,000 month, whereas their supervisor receives N40,000 monthly.

What a typical unscrupulous operator does to recreation the system is to pad the month-to-month bill submitted to LAWMA with fictitious names for cost.

From the investigations, hassle began when auditors authorised by the governor hit Ikorodu axis during the last two weeks to confirm the claims, solely to find that many of the names submitted by “Iron Woman” to gather cash beforehand had been nonexistent whereas a superb variety of the routes had been discovered virtually unkempt.

On the finish of the verification train, twelve of the routes had been discovered to be virtually deserted as no sweepers had been discovered on web site.

Within the books, she had in her make use of on the 66 routes a complete of two,310 employees. Every route engages 33 sweepers and a pair of supervisors. Based mostly on these figures, her firm was accumulating over N80 million month-to-month from LAWMA.

Nevertheless, “it was not too tough to uncover the racket by way of the introduction of biometrics. On the appointed day, solely half of the quantity touted confirmed as much as both have their passport taken, thumbprint collected and telephone quantity registered. In some circumstances, a sweeper could be found to personal a number of telephones documented beneath totally different names.” a supply stated.

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Controversies


Allegations in opposition to the “Iron Woman” had been hardly restricted to “ghost employees,” and indiscriminate use of thugs to subdue and dominate rivals within the Lagos waste administration sector. One among her victims was stated to be Dr. Daudu, a retired Everlasting Secretary within the Ministry of Native Authorities Affairs and Chieftaincy Titles.

He was allegedly bodily assaulted by the “Iron Woman’s” thugs in April in the course of the nationwide lockdown.

On sighting them that fateful day, the aged Daudu was stated to have appealed to the “Iron Woman” to set a superb instance to the general public since she and her of us had been shifting round in LAWMA-branded aprons.

It took the intervention and insistence of the physique of retired Heads of Service, Everlasting Secretaries and Commissioners to compel the then LAWMA boss, Gbadegesin, to make her apologize to Dr. Daudu a number of days later.


LAWMA Clears Air On Delayed Cost Of Avenue Sweepers’ Wage

Meantime, LAWMA has clarified its place on the delayed wage cost to road Sweepers.

The clarification turns into crucial in view of the current pockets of protests and agitations over the difficulty.

Odumboni disclosed that the sweepers had been straight engaged by the contractors of the company, who’re additionally accountable for their month-to-month funds and maintenance. He famous that the contractual settlement solely exists between the authority and the contractors.

Odumboni maintained that the State authorities prioritises the welfare and wellbeing of its personnel and affiliate corporations including that LAWMA had made April funds to the contractors for disbursement to their workers, including that efforts had been ongoing to make sure the immediate launch of subsequent funds.

He burdened that the Authority appreciates the good work the sweepers are rendering, particularly throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, and gave an assurance that LAWMA will proceed to make sure immediate cost to its varied contractors.


“We recognize everybody who has proven concern and understanding of our efforts in making certain a constant and sustainable cleaner Lagos consistent with the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda”
, he added.

He, due to this fact, solicited for continued help and understanding, stressing that the difficulty of delayed funds might be mentioned with the contractor and amicably resolved to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

 

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