A prominent pro-democracy and Non-governmental body – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack forthwith Mr. Obono Obla who is masquerading around as head of an illegal presidential panel. THIS it said must be done if his government will achieve any meaningful results in the anti-graft war and stop getting poor reports every year from such global reputable bodies like Transparency International.
HURIWA reminded president Buhari that for three years his administration has failed to achieve significant milestones in the anti-graft crusade primarily because of such interlopers like the politician Mr. Obono Obla who has constituted himself into a government within a government. The group said it was the interferences of such garrulous state actors that the fight against corruption is perceived as politically motivated fight against members of the People’s Democratic Party given that Obono Obla is rabidly partisan and not devoted to work as a patriotic Nigerian but has acted true to his character as a politically attack dog of the All progressives congress.
In a media briefing, HURIWA through its National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko said the so-called special presidential investigation panel on the recovery of public property is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and has come under series of allegations of being used for extortions. “We will take steps in the coming days to get the legislature or court of law to formally disband the illegal contraption should President Muhammadu Buhari not listen to the voice of reason and only allow EFCC and ICPC fight corruption and Economic and Financial Crimes in compliance with extant laws.
HURIWA wondered why president Buhari failed to flush out Mr. Obono Obla and other executive interlopers frustrating the institutional and law based crusade against graft even after Mr. Obla was seen on television defending the fugitive who is an alleged pension thief Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina whose illegal reinstatement into public service despite declaration as a wanted person by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission brought monumental global opprobrium to Nigeria and painted the current government as that which shields allegedly corrupt Nigerians.
HURIWA affirmed that it is on record that just before public outcry forced President Buhari to order the sack of Maina from his illegal reinstatement, Mr. Obla who was parading himself as chairman of an unconstitutional body known as presidential panel on recovery of public property, had appeared on channels TV to defend Alhaji Maina even as the media quoted him as speaking for the presidency. “Why is Mr. President still keeping this Obono Obla who backed an illegal reinstatement of a wanted man who allegedly cornered peoples’ pension money and housing assets to himself? What kind of a fake platform is he still leading when he was caught pant’s down associating with Maina?”
HURIWA recalled that Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, speaking on Channels TV Sunday Politics, said the fact that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) declared Maina wanted did not mean he was guilty.
According to him, people were just speculating, adding that “I do not know if any court of competent jurisdiction has found Maina guilty of corruption.”
This came as the anti-graft commission launched a manhunt for Maina.
While Obla defended him, HURIWA recalled vividly that Maina was still on the wanted list on the anti-corruption commission’s official website.
“The public is hereby notified that Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina, former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), whose photograph appears above, is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for offences bordering on Procurement Fraud and Obtaining by False Pretence. “Dark complexioned Maina is allegedly complicit in the over N2 billion Pensions Biometric Scam in the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. He remains at large, after charges were filed against his accomplices,” the wanted notice on the website reads.
It added that anybody with useful information as to his whereabouts should contact the commission in its Enugu, Kano, Lagos, Gombe, Port Harcourt and Abuja offices or through listed telephone numbers and its email address as well as the nearest police station and other security agencies.
After this disgraceful outing, Nigerians were told by the Attorney General of the federation that Obono Obla has been relieved of this duty which in any event is not backed up by any legal status and is in conflict with extant laws setting up EFCC and ICPC.
Obla has variously been seen terrorizing Nigerians who own property in Abuja and many have accused his kangaroo panel of being used to harass, intimidate and extort Nigerians who believed that they got their property lawfully since the constitution allows for right to property.
The contraption called special presidential investigation panel for the recovery of public property has also frequently violated section 37 of the constitution which states that: “the privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone, conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected.”
Section 44(1) of the constitution states as follows: “No moveable property or any interest in an immovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of Nigeria except in the manner and for the purposes prescribed by a law that, among other things – (a) requires the prompt payment of compensation therefore; and (b) gives to any person claiming such compensation a right of access for the determination of his interest in the property and the amount of compensation to a court of law or tribunal or body having jurisdiction in that part of Nigeria.” Already both the EFCC and ICPC are authorized by law to seek legally for forfeiture of illegally acquired assets.
HURIWA has therefore asked president Buhari to sack Obla within 48 hours or it will approach the National Assembly to seek for legislative intervention to save the anti-graft war from being unduly distracted and hijacked by any illegal platform such as the one Mr. Obla currently claims to head. After which it may seek legal pronouncement on the legality of the so called Presidential panel on recovery of property.
We have received several reports from Nigerians alleging that Mr. Obla wrote them in the letter headed paper of the office of the federal Attorney General and Minister of Justice threatening and harassing them even as we will get the relevant evidence and send to the National Assembly and the AGF.
The Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) views with resentment the smear campaign being engineered by the Chairman of the so-called Special Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, against the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, over alleged ownership of overseas property.
The reports were purportedly predicated on a supposed letter to the Special Fraud Office, SFO, United Kingdom, by the President and other letters to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and United States of America (USA) by the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Tunde Fowler, over properties allegedly owned by Senator Ekweremadu.
However, our investigation has since established that no such letters emanated from Mr. Fowler, but from the spin desk of Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla for Senator Ekweremadu’s refusal to play ball.
We have also established as a hoax the report of the FG’s intention to arraign Senator Ekweremadu before the Code of Conduct Tribunal this week.
We recall that Mr. Obono-Obla had earlier issued an illegal quit notice, asking the Senator and Senator David Mark to vacate their Apo Legislative Quarters residences within 21 days for allegedly buying them at little less than the market cost from the Federal Government.
HURIWA understands that such comedies of the absurd informed the decision of the FG to disband the self-appointed and illegal Obono-Obla Panel, which is not recognized by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation in the first place.
*Emmanuel Onwubiko is the Head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).