Attempt to Recover Assets of PEF’s GM Cost Obono-Obla Suspension, Alleges CACOL


Gboyega Akinsanmi

The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has disclosed that the suspended Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla’s resolve to probe the General Manager, Administration & Personnel Management, Petroleum Equalisation Fund, Mrs. Aisha Usman cost him suspension.

CACOL, an anti-corruption civil society organisation, admitted that Obono-Obla might have his own corruption issues yet unresolved, but his decision to ensure full recovery and return of all stolen assets belonging to the country was commendable.
It made the remarks in a statement his Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran issued on Friday, detailing Obono-Obla’s efforts to recover and return illegal assets allegedly acquired by Usman, a federal civil servant.

Obono-Obla’s office, located in Asokoro, was sealed penultimate Friday by some armed police officers. The police action followed a directive from the Presidency that Obono-Obla should be relieved of his appointment immediately.
He was suspended from office as the Chairman of the SPIP while the Presidency had asked the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate corruption allegations around him.

Already, the anti-graft agency had on Friday issued an order to Obono-Obla to report for questioning tomorrow for alleged corruption practices bordering on the academic credentials he used to gain admission into the University of Jos to study law or the Nigerian Law School.
An Ad-hoc Committee of the House of Representatives had December 2018 indicted him of certificate forgery. It asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Obono-Obla over an allegation that he forged his high school certificate.

In its statement yesterday, CACOL said that reports showed that Obono-Obla had written the PEF about Usman and filed an ex-parte application at the Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking interim forfeiture of N65 million worth of shares and other suspicious assets to the federal government.

The statement said the panel was reportedly investigating some staff of the PEF before it stumbled on information that revealed that sometimes in January 2018, Usman bought shares in some blue-chip companies, totalling reported sum.

It added that the panel listed other assets allegedly acquired by Usman “to include 24 separate bank accounts linked to her; a property at Plot 46, Damaturu Crescent, Garki, Area 11, Abuja, and another property at 9, Prince Obi Emmanuel Street, Brains & Hammers Estate, Apo Village, Abuja.

“At the point of search conducted on her residence, huge sums of cash were allegedly recovered. They included N800, 000; €500, 15,000 Dinar; 18 carat white gold and one carat yellow gold. Her N65 million worth of shares are in Seplat Petroleum Plc., Stanbic IBTC Holdings, Oando Plc., GTB, Dangote Cement Plc., and UBA Plc.

“In one of her accounts with Stanbic Bank Plc., was also deposited about N40 million and several other millions of Naira in her stock-broking account with Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers Limited,” the anti-graft group alleged.
The statement alleged that with Usman’s alleged kleptomaniac and grand acquisitive tendencies, the world could easily view why Nigeria had been forced to its knees economically by those entrusted to administer the nation.

It added that if a civil servant could expropriate so much illegally “to herself rather than use the resources for its original purpose, you can then imagine how serious the looting would be on the part of political office holders who have the approval and final dispensing powers.”
As the chairman of the presidential panel, the statement admitted that Obono-Obla might have his own corruption issues yet unresolved, the commission commended his decision geared at full recovery and return of all stolen assets belonging to the nation.

The statement said the step “should be followed up to its conclusion while investigation on others must be intensified towards ascertaining the extent of involvement in corruption of other similarly, highly placed officials of the PEF and other cognate government establishments.
“All recovered sums and other assets must be fully ploughed back and converted to their original purposes and benefits to the nation, while the guilty should not be spared to serve as a deterrent in the fight against corruption.”