Certificate Forgery: Suspended presidential aide, Obono-Obla, moves to stop ICPC investigation

Suspended Okoi Obono-Obla, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari
Suspended Okoi Obono-Obla, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari

The suspended chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, has challenged his investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

In a suit brought before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, whose details were published by The Punch Newspaper, Mr Obono-Obla alleged that the commission lacks powers to investigate him over alleged certificate forgery, according to the paper.

The Nigerian government suspended Mr Obono-Obla from his office as head of the Special presidential panel, pending the outcome of an investigation by the ICPC.

In his suspension letter signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Mr Obono-Obla was told that “this suspension shall subsist pending the conclusion of the on-going ICPC investigations into cases of alleged falsification of records and financial impropriety against your person.”

Mr Obono-Obla was, by his suspension letter, expected to present himself to the ICPC for questioning and possible prosecution following allegations of forgery.

The suspended chairman, a law graduate from the University of Jos and a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, is suspected to have secured admission into the tertiary institution using forged high school certificates.

But Mr Obono-Obla has insisted on denying the allegation and described his travails as a reprisal by prominent persons for his anti-corruption efforts while in office as head of the SPIP.

In the latest developments challenging his investigation, Mr Obono-Obla alleged that the commission would fail in conducting itself properly because of the ties the commission has with the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, the Punch Newspaper reports.

“Among other things, he contended in the suit marked, HC/ABJ/CS/980/2019, that the ICPC, had no powers to invite, arrest, detain, investigate, or prosecute him in connection with alleged falsification of academic certificates.

“The plaintiff alleged that part of the reasons he was suspended as the SPIP chairman was that he was not taking instructions from Osinbajo. Obono-Obla linked his travails to the investigations he launched against influential persons and organisations.

Faulting his suspension, he said he has “has been investigating many politically-exposed persons and civil servants, none of whom has been suspended.”

“He added that due to the closeness of the commission’s Chairman, Prof Bolaji Owansanoye, to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the Anti-corruption agency would not conduct the probe fairly,” the paper said.

Mr Obono-Obla application was brought through his lawyer, Mr Faruk Khamagam, the paper said.

The suspended chairman could not immediately be reached on his phone line to confirm the development. Calls put through to his line did not connect.

The vice-president’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, did not respond to his call when contacted by PREMIUM TIMES.

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