The suspended Chairman of the Special Presidential Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, (SPIP) Okoi Obono-Obla, has challenged his investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, (ICPC) in court, declaring that the anti-graft agency is biaised against him already.
According to a statement by his lawyer, F. Baba Isa of FBI Legal, Abuja on Friday, Obono-Obla said the ICPC never invited him, adding that declaring him wanted in the media was just to embarrass him.
Ripples Nigeria had reported that the ICPC had in a statement by its spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa, declared Obono-Obla wanted, adding that the former SPIP chairman left the country in August and has failed to return.
The statement further disclosed that the ICPC had been served with court processes in the said suit, but they have refused to react to the suit.
The statement reads: “We are Solicitors to Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, and issue this Press Statement in that capacity.
“Our attention was drawn to a widely circulated press release by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC wherein they declared Chief Okoi Obono Obla, the erstwhile Chairman of the Special Presidential Panel for the Recovery of Public property, wanted, for failing to honour a purported invitation extended to him pursuant to an investigation they claim they are conducting.
“Though it is obvious that the whole intent of the ICPC Press Statement declaring Our Client wanted is an unfortunate episode in a well oiled media trial orchestrated to ridicule and embarrass a man who spent the last two years of his life fighting corruption to its knees, let us put some record straight as succinctly as possible.
“Chief Okoi Obono Obla was never ever invited by the ICPC for an interview or questioning. Rather, we read on social media and blogs that a purported invitation letter was left at the law office of Obono, Obono & Associates, a law firm which Our Client resigned from since 2015 to accept the appointment of President Mohammadu Buhari, first to serve as Special Assistant on Prosecution and then as Chairman of the Special Presidential Panel for the Recovery of Public Property. The ICPC knew this; for they should know that he was not combining private legal practice and public service.
“An invitation of this nature must be done by personal service on the invitee, failure of which the proper legal steps should be taken to serve the invitee through substituted means. ICPC cannot just drop a purported invitation letter meant for a person anywhere and claim that they have invited such a person. So, we repeat, Chief Okoi Obono Obla has never been invited by the ICPC.
“Secondly, a case has been filed by Our Client against the ICPC challenging the purported investigation on the grounds that the agency is already prejudiced against him. Our Client took this action after a full blown media trial was launched against him. It was/is crystal clear that the ICPC has already declared him guilty even before they started their investigation. No sane man will trust an investigative agency to be fair, just and decent when it is clear from their conduct and posturing that such an agency has already taken sides.
“The ICPC has been served with court processes in the said suit, but they have refused to react to the suit but rather they have chosen to carry on as a law unto themselves, ignoring the suit and going on with the media trial by declaring Our Client wanted without even first obtaining an order of court in that regard.
“This is most unfortunate. The ICPC should obey the law and due process by first serving Our Client an invitation letter, joining issues with Our Client in court and when that is disposed off, one way or the other, justice can be said to have been done. To arrogantly ignore the case in court and carry on as they are doing cuts a riotous image of President Buhari’s administration. It paints the administration as one without adherence to the rule of law, one that sacrifices its anti-corruption crusaders for political expediency. It is most unfortunate.”
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