Declaring me wanted by ICPC an embarrassment, says Obono-Obla
The suspended Chairman of the Special Presidential Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, has faulted the recent action of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), wherein he was declared wanted, saying it was meant to ridicule and embarrass him.
He also faulted the steps taken by the Commission before declaring him wanted, saying he was never invited by the ICPC for an interview or questioning.
Obono-Obla, who spoke through a statement by his counsel, Mr F. Baba Isa, said the action of the ICPC painted President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration “as one without adherence to the rule of law, one that sacrifices its anti-corruption crusaders for political expediency.”
The statement titled, ‘Re: Chief Okoi Obono Obla Declared Wanted By The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC’ read: “Our attention was drawn to a widely circulated press release by the ICPC wherein they declared Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, the erstwhile Chairman of the Special Presidential Panel for the Recovery of Public Property wanted, for failing to honour a purported invitation extended to him pursuant to an investigation they claim they are conducting.
“Though it is obvious that the whole intent of the ICPC press statement declaring our client wanted is an unfortunate episode in a well-oiled media trial orchestrated to ridicule and embarrass a man who spent the last two years of his life-fighting corruption to its knees, let us put some records straight as succinctly as possible.
“Chief Okoi Obono Obla was never ever invited by the ICPC for an interview or questioning. Rather, we read on social media and blogs that a purported invitation letter was left at the law office of Obono, Obono & Associates, a law firm which our client resigned from since 2015 to accept the appointment of President Muhammadu Buhari, first to serve as Special Assistant on Prosecution and then as Chairman of the Special Presidential Panel for the Recovery of Public Property. The ICPC knew this; for they should know that he was not combining private legal practice and public service.
“An invitation of this nature must be done by personal service on the invitee, failure of which the proper legal steps should be taken to serve the invitee through substituted means. ICPC cannot just drop a purported invitation letter meant for a person anywhere and claim that they have invited such a person. So, we repeat, Chief Okoi Obono Obla has never been invited by the ICPC.”
The statement continued: “Secondly, a case has been filed by our client against the ICPC challenging the purported investigation on the grounds that the agency is already prejudiced against him. Our client took this action after a full-blown media trial was launched against him. It was/is crystal clear that the ICPC has already declared him guilty even before they started their investigation. No sane man will trust an investigative agency to be fair, just and decent when it is clear from their conduct and posturing that such an agency has already taken sides.
“The ICPC has been served with court processes in the said suit, but they have refused to react to the suit but rather they have chosen to carry on as a law unto themselves, ignoring the suit and going on with the media trial by declaring our client wanted without even first obtaining an order of court in that regard.
“This is most unfortunate. The ICPC should obey the law and due process by first serving our client an invitation letter, joining issues with our client in court and when that is disposed of, one way or the other, justice can be said to have been done. To arrogantly ignore the case in court and carry on as they are doing cuts a riotous image of President Buhari’s administration. It paints the administration as one without adherence to the rule of law, one that sacrifices its anti-corruption crusaders for political expediency. It is most unfortunate.”