Obono-Obla still wanted, says ICPC

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has said the former chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, is still wanted by the body.

Obono-Obla, who was declared wanted by the anti-corruption agency on October 22, released a message on his Facebook page on Thursday suggesting that he was in Nigeria and attending social functions.

On August 15, the commission invited Obono-Obla for questioning after his removal from office through a letter signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on August 14.

In a statement, spokesperson for the ICPC, Rasheedat Okoduwa, said Obono-Obla was accused of failing to honour the commission’s invitation over a number of allegations bordering on alleged corruption.

The statement said there was evidence that Obono-Obla left Nigeria in August and had yet to return to the country.

The ICPC said Obono-Obla was facing a series of allegations levelled against him on his role as head of the SPIP.

The statement said, “The commission is in receipt of petitions accusing him of abuse of office, falsification of admission records, living above his income and collection of gratification from suspects under his investigation.

“The suspended chairman is also facing allegations of working outside the guidelines governing the panel by investigating unauthorised petitions and prosecuting suspects without recourse to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.”

The commission said it had conducted a series of investigations into the allegations with preliminary findings showing that some provisions of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000 and extant laws of Nigeria had been allegedly violated by Obono-Obla.

It added that records from the Nigeria Immigration Service showed that Obono-Obla travelled out of the country to an undisclosed location on August 17 through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, and had not returned since.

But in a daring message on his Facebook page, Obono-Obla stated that he attended the unveiling of a book written by Abam Iwara on Tuesday at The Presbyterian Primary School, Ugep, Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State.

In another post, the suspended SPIP chair released a picture claiming that Obol Lopon of Idomi, Yakurr LGA and his entourage paid him a visit on Thursday. In the picture were Obono-Obla, two people in traditional attire (whom he claimed to have paid him the visit) and two children.

When asked if Obono-Obla’s wanted order had been lifted by the commission, Okoduwa said through a text message that he was still wanted by them.

She said, “The order has not been lifted.”

Part of the message posted by Obono-Obla on Thursday read, “On December 24, 2019, I attended the unveiling of a book, Topics in African History: Before 1800 and in the 19th and 20th Centuries, written by Chief Abam O. Iwara @ The Presbyterian Primary School, Ugep, Yakurr LGA of Cross River State.

“To encourage the work of the author, I bought 250 copies of the book. I have decided to donate 50 copies each of the book to five secondary schools in Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State to promote the study of history. The foreword of the book is written by my humble self.”

A source at the commission described the Obono-Obla’s posts on his Facebook page as an indirect taunt directed at the ICPC.

Apart from the book launch and the traditional leaders’visit, Obono-Obla on Friday insinuated in a post that a friend whom he brought on board the SPIP initiated what he described as a fake petition against him, which resulted in his removal.

He said the friend aimed at replacing him as SPIP chairman but failed. He also reacted to people’s reactions to his posts, stating in one of such reactions that he would not want to be dragged into the issue of the removal of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

 

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