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Supreme Court dismisses FG’s suit against Orubebe for alleged false asset declaration



Godsday Orubebe

The Supreme Court on Friday, dismissed an appeal by the Federal Government seeking to overturn the decision of the Court of Appeal which had cleared former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, of charges bordering on false asset declaration.

This was reached in a unanimous decision by a five-member panel led by Justice Emmanuel Agim.

The apex court also upheld the nullification of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), judgement that convicted Orubebe over an allegation that he falsely declared his assets in 2007.

In the lead judgement read by Justice Agim, the Supreme Court held that FG’s appeal against Orubebe was incompetent.

The panel also held that government had acted in breach of its rules when it failed to obtain permission before it lodged the appeal on mixed law and facts.

While dismissing the appeal, Justice Agim, said it was incompetent and lacked merit.

READ ALSO:Orubebe formally joins APC seven years after opposing Buhari’s victory in election

“The appeal is incompetent. Prior leave of court was not obtained to file a mixed fact of law. It is hereby struck out,” Agim said.

Orubebe was arraigned by the Federal Government in 2015 for not fully disclosing his properties in the asset declaration forms he submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau during his tenure as a minister from 2007 to 2011.

According to the charges, the offence was said to be contrary to Section 15 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under Section 23(2) of the same Act but he pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against him.

In his defence, Orubebe had claimed he did not declare a plot of land in the Asokoro area of Abuja as his asset in 2011 because he had sold it to his landlord before he made the last asset declaration while leaving office.

But the Code of Conduct Tribunal ordered that the property which the former minister failed to declare be forfeited to the Federal Government which made the former minister challenge the tribunal’s judgment at the Court of Appeal.

The appellate court, in its ruling, upturned the decision of the tribunal which had earlier convicted the former minister and confiscated the undeclared asset. But not satisfied with the judgement, the Federal Government filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.

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