Real reasons Buhari sacked Okoi Obono-Obla
It is no longer news that President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked one of his aides and the Chairman, Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla with immediate effect but what many do not know is the circumstances that led to the firing of the Cross River State-born lawyer.
Naijaonlinetv brings you the real reasons that led to Obono-Obla’s dismissal and how he fell out with the powers that be.
The sack of Obono-Obla came via a letter dated Wednesday, August 14, 2019 and signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, where Obono-Obla was accused of falsification of records and financial impropriety.
The letter read in part:
“I write to convey the directive of His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for your suspension from office as Chairman, Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property with immediate effect.
This suspension shall subsist until the conclusion of the ICPC investigations into cases of alleged falsification of records and financial impropriety against your person.
You are required by this instruction to strictly observe and comply with the provisions of PSR 030405 (a-c) of the Public Service Rules. For the avoidance of doubt, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, shall be the authority to whom you shall report.
Please accept my best regards.”
Punch Newspaper reports that a House of Representatives ad-hoc panel had earlier alleged that Obono-Obla gained admission into the University of Jos to study Law with a forged WAEC certificate.
The House panel had tendered that in the course of its primary assignment, it discovered that Obono-Obla may well have forged his way into the University of Jos where he obtained
a Law degree and subsequently proceeded to the Nigerian Law School from where he was called to the bar.
An unnamed top government official told Punch that the federal government may ask the University of Jos to withdraw Obono-Obla’s Law degree while the Nigerian Law School may also be directed to bar him from practicing as a lawyer.
Asides the charge of falsification of academic records, Obono-Obla has also been accused of abuse of office, intimidation, financial impropriety, among others.
An inside source said:
“According to the Office of the Attorney-General, Obono-Obla has been accused of various offences ranging from abuse of office, intimidation and unauthorised malicious investigations and administrative misconduct, among others.
In fact, the matter of the mandate of the panel became an issue of judicial interpretation at the Appeal Court in the case of Tijjani Musa V the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In that case, the Appeal Court held that the panel headed by Obono-Obla lacks prosecutorial powers and cannot seize properties belonging to anyone or obtain forfeiture orders against any public official.”
It was also learned that as Chairman for the Recovery of Public Property Panel, Obono-Obla often went beyond his brief for financial gains.
While the panel was primarily set up to investigate cases referred to it by the government, according to the law establishing the panel, Obono-Obla would take on cases outside of the panel’s purview.
Obono-Obla also reportedly fell out with other members of the panel for his excesses and high handedness on the job. The aggrieved members of the panel would go on to address petitions to the presidency, calling for the sack of their chairman.
Another source said that the other four members of the five-man panel wrote a petition against him, asking for urgent action to curtail the several identified unlawful conducts of the chairman of the panel.
“According to the panel members, while two cases involving NEXIM Bank and CBN, Finance Ministry and the Nigeran Ports Authority were referred to the panel, the chairman single-handedly took on over 50 cases outside the mandate of the panel,” the source said.
Reacting to the allegations against him, Obono-Obla said some powerful lawmakers are hell- bent on ending his career in government because he has exposed how corrupt they are.
He calls his travails ‘a hatchet job done to witch-hunt, harass, intimidate, ridicule and scandalise me because I dared to investigate and expose assets hidden abroad by some powerful people in the National Assembly.”