Vice President Yemi Osinbajo backed President Muhammadu Buhari’s dissolution of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), a source says.
The SPIP was set up to report to the President and not prosecute persons on specific assignments handed to it by the office of the President.
PM News gathered that Prof. Osinbajo who inaugurated the SPIP in August 2017 when he was acting President has been inundated with petitions against the suspended chairman of the Panel, Mr Okoi Obono-Obla, who is presently under investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
President Buhari had earlier suspended Mr Obono-Obla following a barrage of petitions against him by financial institutions, government agencies and foreign missions in Nigeria.
The source said that Mr Obono-Obla was not only hurting the anti-corruption fight of the Buhari administration but was also enriching himself by using his office.
“The Vice President totally supported the dissolution of the SPIP under Mr Obono-Obla because he had stepped out of his constitutional provision,” the source said, adding that, “Prof. Osinbajo inaugurated the Panel as acting President and was very specific about their role.
The source disclosed to PM News that the SPIP under Mr Obono-Obla was usurping the functions of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and that of the ICPC.
The source explained that many petitions were filed against Mr Obono-Obla including a case of a pregnant woman, Nkeiru Okpalanozie Negwa, who was accused by the Panel of receiving bribe as an electoral officer, in the February 2019 elections, in order to manipulate results.
“She was arrested on 7 June 2019 and severely beaten to the extent she began to bleed. She was rushed to DEDA Hospital Jabi on 8 June 2019 by the operatives of the Panel, where she received treatment,” the source said.
Some previous media reports had shown how Panel’s fund that was supposed to be domiciled with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation for transparency received several donations in the name of Obono-Obla without declaring such donations to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation or retiring same.
Also a certain, Mr. Nnadi Ifebi, a friend of Mr. Obla and not a member of the Panel signed correspondences as Obla’s Chief of Staff and sends out invitations to their victims usually to extort money from them in the process.
There was another petition from one of Nigeria’s leading financial institution against Mr. Obla. “Petition dated 28 November 2017 from Ugochukwu Okwesili, Head Litigation, United Bank for Africa challenging a demand by the Panel for the statement of accounts of four of its customers in relation to a matter he claimed had been thoroughly investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of Police, the Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Ministry of Justice, and clearance was issued by the three authorities.”
In President Buhari’s statement issued on Tuesday, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been directed to immediately take over all outstanding investigations and other activities of the SPIP.
President Buhari says he looks forward to receiving the final ICPC report on the ongoing investigations of the dissolved panel’s Chairman.