The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday this week allegedly arrested and subsequently released the former and immediate past Managing Director of Lagos State Signage and Advertisement Agency, George Kayode Noah.
The arrest follows the Outdoor Advertising Agency of Nigeria‘s (OAAAN) petition to anti-graft agency, allegedly claiming that Noah has refused to remit the N3.2 billion contract entered into with the All Progressive Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari campaign p[rior to 2015 general election.
The petition alleged that Noah had been paid by the APC and Buhari Campaign Organisation but has reneged on the agreement to pay over 70 outdoor advertising agencies.
After several horse trading on the matter, Noah was finally picked up by the anti-graft agency and taken to the Lagos office for questioning and he was however released same day after intense grilling by the agency.
Confirming the arrest, Noah said “I was invited for questioning by the EFCC but I was released the same day. It was not an arrest.”
Contrary to the report that former LASAA MD is owing outdoor advertising agencies the sum of N3billion, the investigations have revealed that the project quotation was scaled down from N3.6billion to N1.2 billion.
Out of the N1.2billion, it is gathered that Ambode/Buhari Campaign Organisation through former Governor of Lagos State had released N537million prior to the general election in 2015. The reported N537million was however used to pay some outdoor advertising agencies plus the TVC and jiggle produced by Noah before the election.
Those agencies that benefitted from the first installment are those whose hoardings are along Lekki-Epe expressway, 789marketing authoritatively gathered.
Noah’s unplanned departure from LASAA frustrated the release of the balance.
The OAAN has consistently protested the refusal of the government to pay, claiming that the debt is choking agencies.
“The companies that ensured that Buhari and Ambode billboards took over 95% of the available billboards in Lagos have not been paid up to 5% of their fees for the job,” some frustrated practitioners lamented to journalists in Lagos.
One of the senior executive committee members of the the outdoor advertisers body, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they were invited by the former LASAA MD, George Noah during the election campaigns to do the jobs but only one or two who insisted on being paid were paid partially, with more than 70 companies remaining in limbo.
“The new MD, Mr. Mobolaji Sanusi has refused to honour the agreement between us and his predecessor, yet his men have started clamping down on our members since around October last year, shutting down our billboards for non-payment of their own dues.
“He has also sent new bills for the year while the billboards are not working since he shut them down but we have explained that the APC billboard monies have not been paid to us by the former MD, George Noah who he claimed has been paid by the All Progressives Congress, Lagos.”
When pressed on why they have not met with Mr. George Noah over the matter, the Association President, Adedoyin said, “Our association has met with him but he is insisting that the APC is yet to pay him. All he keeps saying is that he is still talking to his principal but all we are asking for is payment for jobs we did.”
On why they have kept quiet about it till now, another member who is the CEO of one of the affected companies said, “We hesitated to come out till now because we didn’t want to embarrass the government or the APC but we were advised by the current LASAA MD, to go after George Noah and the company he used to issue the media order, ‘Media Worth’
Meanwhile, the LASAA MD, Mobolaji Sanusi has insisted that OAAN members owe the agency over N40million, But the association through their president Adedoyin said the debt if actually so could be as a result of the LASAA charges on vacant boards.