PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla, from office pending the conclusion of an ongoing investigation.
In a letter, signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Obla was directed to step down and then proceed to answer questions from the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC.
“This suspension shall subsist until the conclusion of the on-going ICPC investigations into cases of alleged falsification of records and financial impropriety against your person,” reads a section of the letter.
“You are required by this instruction to strictly observe and comply with the provisions of PSR 030405 (a-c) of the Public Service Rules. For the avoidance of doubt, the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary. Federal Ministry of Justice shalt be the authority to whom you shall report,” it read.
His suspension is linked to an investigation by the anti-graft agency, ICPC, which found that he had forged his WAEC result to enroll at the University of Jos, where he studied law in the 1980s. He also attended the Nigerian Law school on the back of the fake high school records.
The findings of the ICPC also corroborates a previous inquiry by an ad – hoc committee of House of Representatives in 2018. It investigated Obono-Obla’s WAEC documents, having found out that it was fake and asked President Buhari to remove him from office.
The lawmakers also said Obono-Obla’s university degree and law school certificate should be withdrawn and he should be handed over to the federal authorities for prosecution.
In a report, he dismissed the allegations against him stating that they were the handiwork of his detractors to sidetrack the presidential task force on its anti-corruption fight.
“It is time we call the myths out for what they are, as the news making the rounds appear to us as a smear campaign from people with their protectionist agenda in favour of persons being investigated,’” he said.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.