James Ojo, Abuja
Former chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), Mr. Okoi Ofem Obono-Obla, has been declared wanted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
ICPC reported Obono-Obla to President Muhammadu Buhari after a discreet investigation of the activities of the recovery panel, which allegedly revealed widespread sleaze and corruption.
The President ordered his suspension from office to pave way for a thorough investigation, which returned a damning verdict.
Obono-Obla was declared wanted by the ICPC due to his repeated failure to appear before it to answer questions bordering on allegations of fraud and corruption, a statement from the commission reads yesterday.
The anti-graft agency stated that it had contacted the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and records showed that the suspended chairman left the country for an undisclosed location on August 17, 2019, through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, and has not returned two months after.
Obono-Obla is facing allegations levelled against him “by members of the public on his role as head of the government panel on asset recovery,” the statement added.
The ICPC explained further that it had in its custody petitions accusing Obono-Obla of abuse of office, falsification of admission records, living above his income and collecting gratification from suspects under his investigation.
The suspended SPIP 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.
“Consequently, ICPC had extended several invitations to him, which he had failed to honour without giving any reason. Attempts to track and make him appear before the commission also failed, leading ICPC to contact other law enforcement agencies for assistance concerning his whereabouts.
“One of such contact has yielded results as records from the Nigeria Immigration Service show that Mr. Obono-Obla had travelled out of the country,” the statement signed by Rasheedat Okoduwa, spokesperson for the commission said.