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.”
COVID-19: Ebonyi Indigenes in Diaspora Pray for Gov. Umahi’s Speedy Recovery
The Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) world-wide has extended its heartfelt sympathy to the governor of Ebonyi state, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, who recently announced that he has been tested positive to the Coronavirus disease on the wee hours of Saturday, July 4th, 2020.
In a statement made available to newsmen on Sunday in Abuja, signed by the President, World-wide of AESID, Ambassador Paschal Oluchukwu, expressed shock and prayed that pandemic be successfully managed and further spread curbed in Ebonyi state, Nigeria and in the world generally.
While wishing governor Umahi a speedy recovery, Amb. Oluchukwu, commended the governor for handing over the affairs of governance of Ebonyi state to his deputy, Barr. Eric Kelechi Igwe, to lead the frontline coordination of the battle to contain and manage further spread of the dreaded COVID-19 virus in the state.
The statement said: “Even as we were astonished when he(Governor Umahi) personally broke the news on the social media that the results from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) indicated that he and some of his close aides also tested positive to COVI-19, we are gladdened by the disposition of his faith that all affected persons will soon test negative to the virus. Like the world already is aware; testing positive to the deadly pandemic is actually not a death sentence.
“While assuring that we have His Excellency, the Governor and all the affected aides in our esteemed prayers and wishing him and others a very speedy recovery to enable him continue to pilot the affairs of governance of our dear state, we also commend him for handing over the affairs of governance of the State to his Deputy, Barr. Eric Kelechi Igwe to lead the frontline coordination of the battle to contain and manage further spread of the dreaded COVID-19 virus which is already at community transmission level in our dear state.”
The association urged every Ebonyian to take the NCDC warnings and protocols very seriously, abide strictly by them and support all efforts by government at all levels in Nigeria in the sustained fight against the dreaded COVID-19 virus.
“It is our earnest desire therefore that the pandemic be successfully managed and further spread curbed in our dear state by all concerned just as we urge every Ebonyian to take the NCDC warnings and protocols very seriously, abide strictly by them and support all efforts by government at all levels in Nigeria in the sustained fight against the dreaded COVID-19 virus. It is real and it has come to stay!
“May God Almighty continue to uplift our dear state as the salt of the Nation.”
Court Transfers Evans’ Trial To Office Of Public Defender
There’s a new twist to the ongoing trial of kidnap Kingpin, Chukwudimeme Onwuamadike, also known as Evans as an Ikeja High Court in Lagos has asked the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) to take over the defence for his alleged inability to afford legal fees.
The Lagos State Attorney-General (A-G), Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) told the court on Friday that his team placed a phone call to Evans’ legal team on the last court date to enquire about the whereabouts of Evans’ counsel.
Justice Hakeem Oshodi, thereafter, noted that Evans had developed a habit of engaging the services of lawyers who according to the judge, “disappeared halfway through trial” and this has caused delays in the case.
He is standing trial alongside four others over the alleged kidnap of Mr Donatius Dunu, the Chief Executive Officer of Maydon Pharmaceutical ltd.
Wife Of Benue State Governor Tests Positive For Coronavirus
The wife of Benue State Governor, Eunice Ortom has tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a statement she personally signed on Friday night, the First Lady said tests conducted on her came out positive.
The First Lady also noted that her son and some staff too were infected by the virus, adding that she has gone into total isolation and has commenced treatment.
“A few moments ago this evening, I received my result from the tests earlier carried out on me by NCDC personnel on routine screening at Government House, Makurdi which returned that I, my son, and some staff are COVID-19 positive.
“We have from this moment, gone into total isolation as required by the protocol and would immediately begin the management treatment as advised by medical experts,” she said.
Ortom, however, advised everyone who has had contact with her in the past two weeks to undergo screening and get tested.
The governor’s wife is optimistic of recovering from the virus, stressing that being CIVID-19 positive is not a death sentence.
Although she admitted that the virus is real, she asked residents of the state not to panic but should be responsible for their actions.
In doing this, Ortom wants the people “to take preventive measures to be protected and be safe by observing the primary protocols.”
One of such include wearing of face masks, constant washing of hands, maintaining Social Distance and staying indoors.
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