ICPC charges Obono-Obla, two others with forgery, diversion of N19.9m
• Arraigned In Abuja, Gets N10m Bail Each
• To Be Re-Arraigned On Similar Charge On Monday, Says Lawyer
Former Special Assistant on Prosecution to President Muhammadu Buhari, Okoi Obono-Obla, and two others, were yesterday arraigned before the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court in Apo on a 10- count charge filed by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
Obono-Obla, who was earlier suspended by Buhari as chairman of the disbanded Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), was arraigned alongside his Senior Assistant, Special Duties (Protocol), Aliyu Ibrahim, and Managing Director, ABR Global Petroleum Resources Limited, Daniel Omughele.
The defendants were accused of diverting N19, 994,185.00 meant for the furnishing of SPIP offices.Obono-Obla was also accused of forging his academic credentials.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge. Subsequently, their Counsel, Paul Erokoro (SAN), Abel Ozioko and Emmanuel Okere, respectively, prayed the court to grant their clients bail on liberal terms.
While that was being considered, lawyer to the Prosecution, Samuel Ipinlaiye, told the court that he would prefer the defendants were not remanded in custody in view of the current coronavirus challenge.
He also went further to withdrew his earlier objection to the defendants’ bail application, but prayed the court to grant bail on terms that would ensure they are available to stand trial.
In his ruling, Justice Olukayode Adeniyi, granted each of the defendants bail at N1million with a surety, who must not be below the rank of director in the service of either the Federal Government or any of its agencies or the FCT or any of its agencies.
Justice Adeniyi ordered Ipinlaiye to retrieve the defendants’ international passports already deposited with the ICPC and hand them to the Registrar of the court.
The Judge consequently adjourned till March 17 for the commencement of trial. Erokoro stated, after the court session, that his client was only being victimised, noting that the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), another agency of the Federal Government, plans to re-arraign Obono-Obla on Monday before another high court of the FCT in Kwali on similar alleged offences.
In the charge, marked CR/922/2020, the ICPC accused Obono-Obla, Ibrahim and Efe of conspiring in 2018 to confer an unfair advantage on Ibrahim and “diverted the sum of N19, 994, 185.00 received by SPIP through its contractors from the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).”
The prosecution further alleged that the sum meant to furnish SPIP offices was allegedly diverted to the personal account of Ibrahim, using proxy companies without furnishing the said SPIP offices as proposed to NDIC.
Ibrahim was accused of using his position to confer unfair advantage on himself by diverting the money into his account using proxy companies without furnishing the SPIP offices as proposed to NDIC.
The alleged offence is said to contravene Section 26(1)(c) and punishable under Section 19 of Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.
In counts four, Obono-Obla was accused of dishonestly using as genuine, “a Mary Knoll College, Ogoja General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level, May/June 1982 (GCE) Statement of Result for Ofem Okoi Ofem, with candidate No 09403/247, showing an O’Level credit (6) score for Literature in English.”
ICPC accused him of using it as “part of the five O’Level credit requirement to study Law for the 1985/86 academic session in UNJOS (the University of Jos) when he had reason to believe that the document (GCE), the basis upon which he was admitted to study Law in UNIJOS, was forged, as he never sat for the English Literature examination for May/June 1982 GCE.”
Obono-Obla was in count five, accused of making false document around November 1985, regarding the GCE certificate.
The alleged offence is contrary to Sections 366 and 363 and punishable under Section 364 of the Penal Code. ICPC said in count six that Obono-Obla, around July 2018 in Abuja, as SPIPC Chairman, “failed to attend/honour an invitation” by ICPC for an investigation, contrary to Section 28(1)(a) and (6) and punishable under Section 28(10) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.
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