By Toby Prince
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has declared a former chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), Okoi Obono-Obla, wanted.
The anti-graft agency said it took the action due to his Obono-Obla’s “repeated failure to appear before it to answer questions bordering on allegations of fraud and corruption”.
President Muhammadu Buhari had suspended Obono-Obla in August, saying the suspension would be in force till the conclusion of the investigation of the ICPC.
In a statement, ICPC said Obono-Obla is facing a series of allegations leveled against him by members of the public on his role as head of the government panel on asset recovery.
“The Commission is in receipt of petitions accusing him of abuse of office, falsification of admission records, living above his income and collection of gratification from suspects under his investigation,” it said in a statement.
“The suspended chairman is also facing allegations of working outside the guidelines governing the panel by investigating unauthorized petitions and prosecuting suspects without recourse to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
“ICPC had conducted series of investigations on the allegations with preliminary findings showing that some provisions of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and extant laws of Nigeria had been allegedly violated by Mr. Obono-Obla.”
The agency said it had established that Obono-Obla left the country in August and had not returned since then.
“Consequently, ICPC had extended several invitations to him, which he had failed to honour without giving any reason,” it said.
“Attempts to track and make him appear before the Commission also failed leading ICPC to contact other law enforcement agencies for assistance concerning his whereabouts.
“One of such contact has yielded results as records from the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) show that Mr. Obono-Obla had travelled out of the country.
“The NIS records revealed that he left the country to an undisclosed location on 17th August, 2019, through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, and has not returned two months after.”
The SPIP came under scrutiny following its probe of some high-profile persons, one of which is Goddy Nnadi, general manager of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF).
The inspector-general of the police had ordered the withdrawal of police security attached to the panel over a petition by Aisha Usman, a senior staff member of PEF, under probe.
Obono-Obla had said some public servants, whose accounts have been discovered to contain money unlawfully acquired, had resorted to false petitions and attacks on officials of the panel