Okoi Obono-Obla, former chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), says he is being persecuted by the office of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo for his loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The SPIP was established to investigate cases of corruption, abuse of office and related offences by public officers.
In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, the ex-SPIP chairman alleged that some principal members of the office of the vice-president asked him to compromise an investigation but he refused to do their bidding.
He said he is being persecuted for choosing to be loyal to the president, adding that he incurred the wrath of the office of the vice-president because he “refused to do their dictates and bidding”.
“My travails started with my appointment as Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property in July 2017!” the letter read.
“The Panel was constituted when the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo was Acting President. He accordingly appointed one of his Special Assistants, Adeniran Gbolahan, as Secretary. Later I had a bitter disagreement concerning whether or not the Panel should wait for mandates from the Vice President before it can commence any investigation.
“The Secretary enjoyed the support of the Vice President through the Deputy Chief of Staff, Ade Ipaye. Mr. Ipaye sided Mr. Gbolahan against me.”
Obono-Obla alleged he was also encumbered from investigating cases of corruption among some members of the national assembly by the office of the vice-president.
“Mr. Ipaye then wrote a letter stopping an investigation of a case of contract scam reported by Nigerian Ports Authority….. 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 wrote.
“In February 2019, Mr. Ipaye wrote to me instructing me to suspend the activities of the Panel on the purported ground that Government was reviewing its operations.
“When the Secretary of the Panel, Mr. Gbolahan left in 2018, he was replaced by Mr. Obinna Ogwuegbu, a nominee of the Vice President who started another bouts of antagonism and malice against me on the prompting of Mr. Ipaye.”
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) declared Obono-Obla wanted.
The president also dissolved the panel pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations of forgery and financial impropriety against him by the ICPC.
But the ex-SPIP chairman said the ICPC is being used as a tool by the ”conspirators” against him.
“I have suffered so much persecution and witch-hunting because of the fact that I have carried out my assignment with patriotism, dedication, commitment and conviction. I don’t deserve this persecution and witch-hunt because of my refusal to be disloyal to Mr. President and allow the office of the Vice President to use the Panel to serve vested interest,” he said.
“The ICPC which is now being used against me is under the protege of the Vice President, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye. Professor Bolaji Owasanoye was part and parcel of the conspirators against me!
“I was also persecuted by the National Assembly! The whole issue of my purported certificate forgery was masterminded by the House of Representatives to get back at me because I had the guts to initiate an investigation against some powerful Senators.
Obono-Obla said he had called the attention of Buhari to the challenges, but that nothing has been done.
“I am open to any probe but also the matters I investigate are facts against the Nigerian people and I’m not deterred. Someday Nigerians will know who their true enemies are,” he said.
“I had briefed Mr. President on the 13th June 2018 on all these interference and challenges but no action was ever taken to address all the concerns raised by me.
“In all of it all, I strove to do my job in a dedicated and committed manner. However, the most painful aspect is the hostilities I have faced ridicule and embarrassment to my person when I was being hounded and harassed without due process of being heard concerning any allegation against me.
“If I have done anything wrong, I should be removed from office but I should not be humiliated and reduced to nothing. It sends a wrong signal to me that I was given a job which merely exposed me to hatred and attack. And why should that be?”