Okoi-Obono-Obla

Okono-Obla’s Panel of Blackmail – By Fredrick Nwabufo

One of the encumbrances to the Buhari administration’s fight against corruption is aides of blemished character.  And that the “war against corruption” elicits farcical reactions is because of these fortune chasers.

The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery Public Property (SPIP) has chalked up copious notoriety; perhaps, owing to the demeanour of its honcho, Okoi Obono-Obla. In fact, it has achieved more success in driving controversy than in unearthing illicit assets.

In March, Victor Uwajeh, a London-based private “investigator”, was hired by the panel to trace the hidden assets of public officers abroad. But in May, he was fired.  The “investigator”, though being a man with a controversial past, made a startling claim regarding why he was sacked.

Uwajeh claimed the panel was targeting opposition figures, and that he was given a charge to only investigate members of the opposition. He reeled out a list of politically exposed persons that the panel had pencilled down for ruffling.

Hear him: “After meeting in London on 18th April, 2018 with some officials during the CHOGM, it was evident that I will not bulge in my position not to go against the ethics of my profession by investigating only the opposition. It was the procedure of the panel to courier documents to me from Nigeria for dispatch to various agencies in the United Kingdom and worldwide.”

 “Soon after, I realised that the panel has a mindset towards certain individuals and groups by the documents it sent to me. Those named in the files were Senate President Bukola Saraki, Ike Ekweremadu, Albert Akpan, Stella Oduah, Atiku Abubakar, Femi Fani-Kayode, James Manager, Nyesom Wike, Jonah Jang and Patience Jonathan.”

Although Uwajeh’s claim could be dismissed as an after-thought, but some of the names he said were in the file are the ones in SPIP’s circus, and they are all opposition figures.

Also, the panel seems like a hound; clawing and gnawing at a select group of people for some unaltruistic purpose. And there is the question of why the panel is compelling public officers to declare their assets before it, even after they have done so before the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). Does the SPIP have the power to demand that public officers declare their assets before it? Is declaration of assets not done every four years at CCB? Why is the panel not asking government appointees to declare their assets before it too? Why is the same token not applied to all? Or is it for blackmail?

Really, SPIP appears to enjoy stirring up dust, much without impact. President Muhammadu Buhari must salvage what is left of his anti-corruption fight by calling deviants like Okono-Obla to order.

Fredrick is a media personality. He can be reached on Facebook: Fredrick Nwabufo, Twitter: @FredrickNwabufo

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