Former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, has faulted his conviction by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, insisting that he is not guilty.
It would be recalled that the Danladi Umar led CCT had pronounced Orubebe guilty on Tuesday, ordering the forfeiture of a plot of land he was accused of failing to declare.
The former minister, while faulting the judgment, vowed to go on appeal to secure the land for the man who bought it from him.
According to Orubebe, he failed to declare the empty plot of land in the Asokoro District of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, because he had disposed of it, insisting that It won’t be fair to the innocent man who bought the ordinary empty land from him when he was in distress to lose it.
Orubebe had said from the witness box that: “As at September 26, 2007, I never had a property named plot 2057 Asokoro District, Abuja. So I could not have declared it upon my assumption of office as a Minister. On June 29, 2011 when I was temporarily disengaged from the Federal Executive Council when it was dissolved before I was re-appointed, I never also had Plot 2057 Asokoro District. So I could not have declared it as mine because it was no longer my property,” he said.
“As an honest Nigerian, other pieces of land that were given to me by the government I served, I declared them. The plot in question which was ordinary empty land in the bush that was given to me by the federal government that I served, bear the offer letter from the FCT Minister.
“I decided to give it out to my landlord, Barr. Ajibola to settle for my two years house rent. This is because, so many people do not know that the annual salary of a Minister, accommodation, transportation and inclusive of everything, per month in 2007, was N1.3m, by 2008, it came down to N990, 000.
“It’s is important to disclose that annual salary of a Minister from that time and even today cannot pay rent for him in befitting places like Maitama, Asokoro, Mabushi or Wuse 2. All Ministers in the FEC were given offer letters. Therefore when I got the offer letter for the land, I saw it as an opportunity to settle my house rent. I never saw the land and the C of O. The same day it was given to me was the same day I parted with it for N10m for two years house rent of N5m each.
“I love this country, but I have a pain in my heart. When oil production went down to 700, 000 barrels per day, this was the man, the only Minister that went to the creeks to meet the militants. I slept in the creeks with militants for two weeks, an effort that led to the amnesty programme and subsequent increase of oil production from 700, 000 barrels to 2.6m barrels.
“The same country that I served is now taking me through this rigours over an ordinary empty plot of land it also gave to me which I sold to pay my rent to have a roof over my head to be able to serve. This is my regret. Now the Niger Delta is boiling again, who will see what I am going through and agree to stick out his neck. My country has not treated me well, my lord my heart is heavy. I am a sad man”.
By Timothy Enietan-Matthews…
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