Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Barring any last minute change, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) will charge the suspended chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), Okoi Obono-Obla to court over corruption charges.
There are also indications that Obono-Obla who is suspected to be hiding somewhere in Canada may be declared wanted by relevant authorities.
Obono-Obla was on August 14 suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari, over allegations of records falsification and extortion.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter dated Wednesday, August 14, and signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, ordered the suspension of Obla with immediate effect.
In the letter, Obono-Obla was among other things accused of falsification of records and financial impropriety. The letter further directed the ICPC to complete its investigations against and prosecute him.
Although the ICPC has since invited him for questioning, he has refused to honour same.
Rather than appear before the ICPC, he has filed a suit to challenge his probe by the Independent Corrupt.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/980/2019, he alleged that the planned investigation would not be fair due to the closeness of the commission’s Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owansanoye, to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Obono-Obla, who challenged the said probe for alleged certificate forgery and extortion, contended that the ICPC had no powers to invite, arrest, detain, investigate or prosecute him in connection with alleged falsification of academic certificates. He equally filed an ex-parte application seeking an urgent hearing of the suit.
The suit was supported by a 16-paragraph affidavit deposed to by the head of the legal unit of the disbanded SPIP, Dr. Celsus Ukpong.
He told the court that part of the reasons he was suspended as the SPIP chairman was that he was not taking instructions from Osinbajo.
He added that with Owasanoye as ICPC chairman, the anti-corruption agency would not conduct a fair probe of his case.
Obono-Obla linked his travails to the investigations he launched against influential persons and organisations.
Faulting his suspension, he said he had been investigating many politically-exposed persons and civil servants, none of whom has been suspended.
He also faulted the alleged forgery of a West Africa Examination Council certificate levelled against him.
He added that despite filing a suit challenging the House of Representatives’ powers to investigate his WASCE certificate and serving the court papers on the House “they refused to show up in court and went ahead and conducted a one-sided hearing and produced a report indicting him of falsifying his WASCE Certificate.