The embattled Chairman of the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, who has been on the run since his sack and investigation, has made damaging allegations against the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, claiming resistance to pressures from the vice president to compromise his duties. Obono-Obla smartly attributed the allegations to the investigation and intention to prosecute him currently going on.
It was gathered that Obono-Obla in a letter dated August 29, 2019, to President Muhammadu Buhari, alleged that Vice President Osinbajo mounted pressures to forestall the investigation of several corrupt persons on the searchlight of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.
Obono-Obla was suspended in August, later sacked by the president, while the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) declared him wanted on allegations of misconduct, financial impropriety and abuse of office.
Obono-Obla in his letter to President Buhari narrated:
“I started getting worried over the undue interest and unwarranted interference in the affairs of the panel. I vividly remembered how in February 2018, Mr. Ipaye wrote a query to me when I started investigating a case of misappropriation of N10 billion allegedly belonging to National Health Insurance Scheme by the Auditor-General of the Federation.
“In April 2018, Mr. Ipaye invited me to his office and instructed me not to proceed with the investigation of some members of the National Assembly. He said he was directed to do so by the vice president. I also remembered sometimes in January, 2018 when the ADC to the Vice President stopped the investigation of a case reported against some functionaries of Akwa Ibom State.
“In February 2019, Mr. Ipaye wrote to me instructing me to suspend the activities of the panel on the purported grounds that government was reviewing its operations. He said he was acting on the directives of the vice-president. So, from the beginning, the office of the Vice-President through Mr. Ipaye saw the panel as an extension of the Office of the Vice President. I incurred their wrath because I refused to do their dictates and bidding.”
Obono-Obla further said that the ICPC Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, who declared him wanted, is a protege of the vice-president. He had alleged that when he invited Femi Bajomo over alleged failure to remit funds belonging to the federal government, he was called by the vice-president’s ADC, who ordered him to drop the case.
Obono-Obla, again, narrated: “On or about 2nd of July, 2029, I invited one Mr. Femi Bajomo, the Managing Director of Hydrocarbon Nigeria Limited, concerning a case of failure to pay remittances to the federal government for OML (Oil Mining Lease) granted it. I got a call from the ADC to the Vice-President suggesting that I should leave him because he is their ‘friend.’
“Also, Mr. Ipaye called me to assert pressure on me to release Mr. Bajomo. He also sent a female staff from his office to come to my office in Aso, pro-extension to exert pressure on me. “This was the last straw. Rumour started swirling that I would be sacked soon. I have suffered so much persecution and with-hunting because of the fact that I have carried out my assignment with patriotism, dedication, commitment and conviction.”
The Office of the Vice-President was said to have refuted the allegations, noting it is a resurgence of old allegations which preceded Obono-Obla’s removal by the president.
It was also noted that Obono-Obla was removed from office by President Buhari because of the recommendations of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who found Obono-Obla guilty of various allegations of impropriety. It was noted that several individuals also sent petitions on Obono-Obla’s misconduct to the ICPC.
Reports indicated that the Office of the AGF and Justice Minister had in August accused Obono-Obla of various misconducts “ranging from abuse of office, intimidation and unauthorised malicious investigations, financial impropriety, administrative misconduct, and allegations of forgery, falsification of records, to mention but a few.”
Apparently, the VP Office insisted that the letter Obono-Obla is presenting to President Buhari is an old one, adding that the letter preceded his sack and investigation by the ICPC.
However, the Office of the Vice President did not make clarification of the issues raised in the letter relating to their falsehood. Obono-Obla also need to present copies of the letter from the Office of the Vice President for public awareness. The embattled Obono-Obla would should also submit himself to the ICPC since he has this level of innocence in the matters against.