Editorial

Harmony Holdings and its can of worms

 

A report of a special investigation panel and resolution by the Kwara House of Assembly penultimate Tuesday, ordered the immediate dissolution of the board and management of Harmony Holdings Limited, HHL over alleged misappropriation of Kwara Government Assets in Abuja, Kwara, Lagos and Kaduna states. The order was part of the resolutions of the House after it adopted report of its Ad-hoc Committee on Allegations of Misappropriation Relating to Government Assets under the chairmanship of Hassan Oyeleke, who’s also the majority leader.
Harmony Holdings management as a group was found to have misappropriated funds, thus was ordered to refund the sum of N51.4m; while one Executive Director, Sanni Adebayo was requested to refund N20 million market value of a land he acquired at Catchment road, GRA in Ilorin. He was equally directed to pay another sum of N500,000 as rent for the said land. The investigation committee also recommended the dissolution of the board and management of the company and appointment of new people to pilot the affairs of the company going forward.
Speaking further about the report, Speaker Ahmad also directed the current tenant of the Tourist Kitchen in Ilorin to vacate the property within 21 working days while the state Ministry of Justice should fine-tune all legal technicalities and award the property to a new client.
He went on to charge the Committee to investigate ownership status of Patigi Regatta Hotel, Stadium Shopping Complex and Gateway Plaza Abuja and report back in eight weeks. Many of those said to be involved in the alleged graft, asset stripping, fraudulent conversion of property, etc according to the House report acquired choice properties and lands at high brow location in Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna and Ilorin.
The House said its six months findings showed that some of the property and lands were allegedly ridiculously undervalued and many others sold to self and cronies at outrageous prices.
In the meantime, while we urge all Kwarans to be patient and wait for the final resolution of this allegation of misconduct and alleged fraud, we also call on the governor, who it was that set up the company in the first place to proceed without delay and constitute a team of investigators to thoroughly scrutinise the report of the House. This will avail alleged culprits a second opportunity to state their own side of the story. Also note worthy is the fact that the vision of the Kwara state Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed that led to the establishment of the Harmony Holdings to coordinate all government owned ventures has been variously lauded and given the right applauses in public domain until now. It is sad therefore that this noble vision is being rubbished by those involved in the fraud allegations.
The state government is hereby urged to promptly act on the recommendations of the state House of Assembly and take definite and bold steps that would serve as deterrent to others, especially those that may want to take government’s benevolence for laxity. However, while this is going on, the Governor Ahmed should also appoint an astute interim management committee or administrator without further delay to manage the company, at this trying time. It will be against the grain of justice to have the same set of people sit over the company while it is under probe.
This revelation and unfolding event as it is today has vindicated one man, and that is the APC leader in the state and Senate Presiednt, Dr. Bukola Saraki who is also a former governor of Kwara State.
Saraki has been at various times insulted and accused by those bent on maligning him but he has oft kept his head while concentrating on the job of impacting better legislation on the country. A cross section of the populace are easily imbued with vile information that the Senate President has the state in his pockets. This incident therefore shows that there is a deeper rot than we can imagine. For instance, Saraki has no knowledge of and of course, has no hand in the affairs of the Holdings as the findings of the assembly had shown.
We commend the Speaker, Dr Ali Ahmad and the House members who were committed to investigating this fraud no matter whose ox was gored. This is a brave attempt at confronting our challenges.
It must be pointed out that this is the sort of job a House of Assembly is meant to carry out always. This is classic oversight and investigation using the powers of the legislature. It is fitting that this investigation and the report therefrom is not swept under the carpet. This means that contrary to widely held belief, politically exposed persons don’t always get embroiled in scams like this. Those in Kwara have shown uncommon courage and patriotism. All efforts must be made to ensure that those that have been found wanting are put to trial and justice meted appropriately. You cannot be put incharge of the assets of all Kwarans only to turn around to strip the people of their legitimate assets.
Henceforth, how this matter is treated will form the fulcrum on which future managers of Harmony Holdings will play. Government must be hard on anyone found wanting and all illegally acquired properties and cash be retrieved for the interest of the people.

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