ICPC invites Obono-Obla, to probe bank balance, others

Obono-Obla
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has invited the suspended Chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, for questioning, The PUNCH has learnt.

It was learnt that the invitation was extended to him on Thursday, barely 24 hours after the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, formally informed him of his suspension.

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The spokesperson of the ICPC, Rasheedat Okoduwa, confirmed to one of our correspondents in Abuja that the commission had written Obono-Obla to report at its headquarters.

“I can confirm that we have written a letter of invitation to him today (Thursday).

“The letter was sent to him through the Office of the Solicitor-General of the Federation. He is to appear before the commission,” Okoduwa said.

She, however, did not disclose when Obono-Obla is expected to appear at the commission’s headquarters for questioning.

Earlier on Thursday, the Ministry of Justice had, while confirming Obono-Obla’s suspension, disclosed that the ICPC had submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari, an interim report of investigation on various allegations levelled against the suspended official.

According to a statement by the ministry’s Deputy Director, Public Affairs, James Odaudu, some of allegations for which Obono-Obla was investigated included abuse of office, intimidation, unauthorised malicious investigation, financial impropriety, administrative misconduct and forgery/falsification of records.

The statement read, “Following the crisis arising from series of petitions from legal practitioners, concerned public spirited citizens and public officers, alleging abuse of office, intimidation, unauthorised malicious investigation, financial impropriety, administrative misconduct and forgery/falsification of records by the Chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed his immediate suspension from office.

“The suspension follows the receipt and consideration of the interim investigative report of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission on the matter.

“The President has also directed that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission should conclude its investigations and proceed to prosecute Chief Okoi Obono-Obla.

“Meanwhile, the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, Esq. has been directed to immediately take over the affairs of the Special Investigative Panel.”

Also on Thursday, The PUNCH gathered that Obono-Obla would answer questions relating to the balance in some bank accounts that have been traced to him.

A top government official told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity that the balance in the bank accounts and the cash flow into them would form major parts of the further investigation that the ICPC will carry out on Obono-Obla.

The source added that apart from the investigation into his financial transactions, it is certain that the suspended official would have his day in court over certificate forgery.

When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the position of government had been stated in the letter written to Obono-Obla by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.

Mustapha had in the letter dated August 14,2019 informed Obono-Obla of his suspension with immediate effect.

The letter read, “I write to convey the directive of His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for your suspension from office as Chairman, Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property with immediate effect.

“This suspension shall subsist until the conclusion of the ongoing ICPC investigations into cases of alleged falsification of records and financial impropriety against your person.” (Punch)

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