Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked Okoi Obono-Obla, Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, a top presidential source that pleaded for anonymity has confirmed.
The letter conveying his sack was delivered to the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Justice, Obono-Obla’s supervising ministry.
His suspension letter signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, directed the embattled Obono-Obla to step down and then proceed to answer questions from the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission.
The embattled aide may in addition, face prosecution with regard to his academic credentials, specifically the WAEC Certificate issue, the source said.
It added that government may request the University of Jos to withdraw his law degree and the Nigerian Law School to debar him from practice.
This is owing to the conclusion of the ICPC investigation, the recommendations of which were approved in full by President Buhari.
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said he was not briefed on the issue and asked that press enquiries be directed to the SGF.
On Friday, a detachment of police offices from Force Headquarters, had sealed off his Asokoro office shortly after we the close of work.
The move was to prevent him from attempting to move incriminating evidence, the source said.
Activities and conduct of the Chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovey of Public Property, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla has been under critical review for sometime in the Presidency and his outright dismissal and prosecution is imminent, a top government official has disclosed.
Specifically, the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister had earlier recommended to the Presidency, among others “that a thorough investigation be conducted into the allegations of forgery levelled against Mr. Obono-Obla,” while also proposing suspending him from office.
The Presidency had also received more recently, an indicting report on the panel chairman bordering on acts of forgery and misconduct.
According to the Office of the Attorney-General, Obla has been accused on various issues “ranging from abuse of office, intimidation and unauthorized malicious investigations, financial impropriety, administrative misconduct, and allegations of forgery/falsification or records, to mention but a few.”
In fact late last year, the matter of the madate of the Panel became an issue of judicial interpretation at the Appeal Court in the case of TIJJANI MUSA TUMSAH V. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.
In that case, the Appeal Court held that the panel lacked prosecutorial powers and cannot seize properties belonging to anyone or obtain forfeiture orders against any public official.
The court also held that the duty of the panel upon conclusion of an investigation is to submit its report to the head of government and that the panel, as against the conduct of the chairman, cannot act outside its enabling Statute, the Recovery of Public Property Special Provisions Act of 1984.
According to an authoritative source, “following a series of violations for which he was queried, Mr. Obla submitted a written undertaking to the effect that the panel under his leadership would only act on a written mandate received from the Presidency, and will seek authorisation from the Presidency to undertake fresh mandates in accordance with extant laws of the Federation.”