President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the Chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla.
A competent Presidency source told journalists on condition of anonymity on Wednesday that Obono-Obla sack letter had been delivered to the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata.
The top government official said the Federal Government might ask the University of Jos to withdraw Obono-Obla Law degree while the Nigerian Law School might also be directed to bar him from practising as a lawyer.
These are apart from the criminal prosecution that he might be subjected to based on his alleged illegal financial dealings said to have been uncovered by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.
The source said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked Okoi Obono-Obla, the head of the assets recovery panel.
“The letter conveying his sack was delivered to the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Obono-Obla supervising ministry.
“He may himself face criminal prosecution on matters related to his alleged financial dealings, as uncovered by the ICPC upon investigation.
“He may, in addition, face prosecution with regard to his academic credentials, specifically the WAEC certificate issue.
“Government may ask the University of Jos to withdraw his Law degree and the Nigerian Law School to debar him from practice.”
When contacted on the telephone, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said he had not been briefed on the issue.
Shehu asked that enquiries be directed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
Also, attempts made to speak with Obono-Obla failed as of the time of filing this report on Wednesday evening as his telephone line indicated that it was switched off.
However, another Presidency source, who confirmed the development, told journalists that Obono-Obla’s activities and conduct had been under scrutiny in the Presidency for some time.
While on suspension, the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, was said to have been asked to take over the leadership of the five-man panel in acting capacity.
The source said, “The Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister had earlier recommended to the Presidency that a thorough investigation be conducted into the allegations of forgery levelled against Obono-Obla while also suspending him from office.
“The Presidency has also received an indicting report on the panel chairman bordering on acts of forgery and misconduct.”
The government official said allegations levelled against Obono-Obla included abuse of office, intimidation, financial impropriety and falsification of records, among others.
He added that when he was confronted with the allegations, Obono-Obla begged and wrote an undertaking to turn a new leaf.
The source added, “According to the Office of the Attorney-General, Obla has been accused on various offences ranging from abuse of office, intimidation and unauthorised malicious investigations and administrative misconduct, among others.
“In fact, the matter of the mandate of the panel became an issue of judicial interpretation at the Appeal Court in the case of Tijjani Musa Vs the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“In that case, the Appeal Court held that the panel headed by Obono-Obla lacks prosecutorial powers and cannot seize properties belonging to anyone or obtain forfeiture orders against any public official.”
According to the source, the main grouse against the panel chairman was that while the panel was supposed to investigate only cases referred to it by the government, according to the law establishing the panel, the chairman was single-handedly taking on cases outside its mandate.
He added that Obono-Obla problem got to the peak when the remaining four members of the panel wrote a petition against him.
The source said, “The other four members of the five-man panel wrote a petition against him, asking for urgent action to curtail the several identified unlawful conducts of the chairman of the panel.
“According to the panel members, while two cases involving NEXIM Bank and CBN, Finance Ministry, Nigerian Ports Authority were referred to the panel, the chairman single-handedly took on over 50 cases outside the mandate of the panel.”
Office Of The Accountant General Of The Federation On Fire In Abuja
Treasury House, the multistorey building housing the offices of the Attorney-Genral of the Federation in Abuja is on fire.
There is no confirmation about the cause of the fire.
Firefighters have responded to the scene.
Governor Ben Ayade Keeps Vigil At Cross River, Akwa Ibom Boundary, Enforces Ban On Entry Into State
Cross River State Governor, Sir Ben Ayade, Tuesday kept vigil at th boundary between his state and Akwa Ibom State, personally taking part in enforcing his government’s order banning human and vehicular movements into the state.
The governor, who arrived the Calabar-Itu head bridge before mid-night on Tuesday, spent several hours with members of the State Covid-19 task force, departing at about 9am on Wednesday.
As a consequence, they were long lines of vehicles on both sides of the boundary, as the taskforce prevented movement across the boundary.
Speaking to news men, the governor said he was denying himself sleep so that the people of the state can themselves sleep.
According to him, leading the enforcement himself was to ensure that the boundary was totally locked down in line with his directive to ensure the state remains Covid19 free.
He said the strict enforcement of the order was necessitated by the reality that all of the neighbouring states have recorded incidences of coronavirus infections.
“We will know no sleep so that our people can sleep. It is for the sake of their own security and safety that we are all out here.”
At about 8am the following morning, the Governor personally screened trapped vehicles, allowing only those on essential services, including newspaper distributors to make it through the boundary, after being tested by medical personnel.
Those considered to be on non-essential services, were turned back.
The governor announced that he will be embarking on a similar exercise at the border between Cameroon and the state.
He said he needed to feel the pulse of the team enforcing the lockdown by taking part in the exercise himself.
“Our ambition is to have zero incidence of Coronavirus in the state. While other states are locking down, we are locking out. We are locking out because inside our state, we are safe and free.
“Those who locked down, locked down with the virus but for Cross River, we are locking out, not locking down. That way we are staying safe.”
On his part, the state commissioner of police, Anozia Uche, who accompanied the governor, commended him for the preventive measures being adopted to keep the state free from the virus.
“The Governor and the rest of us have come here at this particular time to ensure that the measures put in place are actually obeyed and enforced.
He said he was impressed with what he had seen.
We’ll Consider Traditional Medicine for COVID-19 Treatment, Says Health Minister
Osagie Ehanire, the minister of health, says the federal government will consider “serious” stakeholders in traditional medicine in the treatment of COVID-19.
The minister spoke at a press conference the presidential task force on COVID-19 held in Lagos on Tuesday.
He said those who are serious with the use of local herbs and concoctions would be considered.
“We will look into every assertion. Some people say they have herbs and some others say they have concoctions. Only for those that are serious, the department of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine in the ministry of health will look into their claims and we will not throw away any suggestion,” he said.
“The efficacy and efficiency of these medicines have to be proven first before it is recommended for people to take.”
He added that different trials are taking place such as “the use of convalescent plasma, which is taken from people that had coronavirus that have been treated successfully”, and these trials are being reviewed and a confirmation will be passed as time goes on.
“The same goes for hydroxychloroquine. It had been found in some tests to work outside the body, that is ‘in vitro testing’, but the chloroquine that people can swallow needs to be tested to see if it works the same way with the one taken outside the body,” he said.
The minister said the federal government is also depending on the World Health Organisation (WHO) like other countries for recommendations on the use of proper medicines to treat coronavirus.
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