Some officials who served under former Osun State governor, Gboyega Oyetola, have returned government vehicles that they allegedly took away illegally.
Governor Ademola Adeleke had on Sunday issued a 48-hours ultimatum to Mr Oyetola, his wife, Kafayat Oyetola and some officials of his administration to return the vehicles or face criminal charges.
Before Mr Ademola issued the warning, Mr Oyetola’s wife had said she used her personal vehicle as First Lady of the state and did not take away any government vehicle.
But while defending his former officials, Mr Oyetola said he gave out the vehicles to them in appreciation of their service to the state.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state also said the former governor and his officials are entitled to keep the vehicles in line with the laws of the state.
However, a top official at the Bureau of General Service of the state, who requested not to be named because he has no authority to make public statements on behalf of the agency, told our reporter on Tuesday that some of the officials have returned the government vehicles in their possession.
The source, who refused to mention their names, said they include a few of the former commissioners.
“The commissioners are silently returning the vehicles, I think it must have been as a result of the 48 hours the governor gave them,” the source said.
“I was informed that one of the commissioners returned a Toyota Hilux yesterday. The person said he will return the official vehicle today. He said he was not aware that no law gives them the permission to take the vehicles home,” the source added.
“Another former commissioner also called and promised to return the vehicle. The thing is that they are secretly returning the vehicles.”
When contacted, Olawale Rasheed, spokesperson to Governor Adeleke, confirmed the development.
“It is true that the people are secretly returning the vehicles because they are now aware that there is no legal basis for them going away with government vehicles, it is like engaging in criminal conduct,” the governor’s spokesperson said.
Mr Rasheed stressed that any of the public office holders who refused to return the government vehicle by Wednesday would face prosecution.
The governor’s spokesperson explained that the implication of not returning the vehicles is that the state government will need to purchase new vehicles which he said will cost N3.2 billion.
“People should not think that we are witch-hunting. We are telling them to return the vehicles because we do not want to spend extravagantly when the state is still lacking development, we are still even struggling to pay salary, even if we want to spend on vehicles, it should not be too much,” he said.
“The challenge is that the state government will spend almost N3.2 billion to purchase new vehicles for all the government parastatals. We are not witch-hunting anybody, many people do not know the implications.”
State pension law
Meanwhile, the extant law of the state on pension, severance package and other fringe benefits for public office holders does not indicate that a public office holder can go home with government property.
The “State of Osun Public Office Holders (Payment of Pension and Severance Package)” was signed into law by former Governor Oyetola on 3 June, 2019.
Section 2 subsection 1(ii) of the law states that:
“A duly elected or appointed public office holder shall upon the successful completion of his term:
(a) In the case of Governor, the Deputy Governor and Members of the House of Assembly be entitled to a severance gratuity, and
(b) In the case of members of the cabinet and members of statutory bodies be entitled to a one-off severance package.
Provided that such person had not been impeached or removed from office for breach of any provision of the constitution.
(2) The sum payable as pension and or severance package under the provisions of this law shall be charged upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the state.
(3) The total emolument of public office holders shall include salary, allowances and fringe benefits as contained in the schedule to this law.
(4) Subject to the provisions of section 124 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the pension and severance package mentioned in this law shall be payable at the expiration of the tenure of the holder of the office.
(5) Where the public office holder vacates office before the expiration of the term of his office for reasons other than impeachment or breach or any provision of the constitution, he shall be paid pension and or severance on a pro-rata basis for the number of years he held such office.
(6) Where a public office holder dies in office before the expiration of his tenure, his family or beneficiaries shall be paid death benefits on a pro-rata basis.”