President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the Chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, for certificate forgery and gross misconduct.
According to an official in the presidency, Obono-Obla’s sack was based on reports the presidency received on his several misconducts in office.
The official said, “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 has also received more recently an indicting report on the Panel Chairman bordering on acts of forgery and misconduct.
“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 mandate 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 headed by Obla lacks 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.
“Actually once when confronted with some of his alleged misconduct and other allegations, Obono-Obla pleaded profusely and was made to sign a written undertaking to mend his ways. However, no sooner had he signed than he abandoned same and continued singularly violating the law and regulations in place in the conduct of the work of the panel.
“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 authorization from the Presidency to undertake fresh mandates in accordance with extant laws of the Federation.”
“The main grouse against the panel chairman was that while it was supposed to investigate only cases referred to it by the government, according to the law establishing the panel, the Chairman had been single-handedly taking on cases outside of its mandate and in gross violation of Rule of Law, including violations of people’s fundamental human rights.