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CCT Judgment: Orubebe Goes On Appeal
Former Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, has appealed the October 4 judgment of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, which found him guilty of false assets declaration.
Chairman of the tribunal, Danladi Umar had ruled that the property in contention, a plot of land in the Asokoro district of Abuja, be forfeited to the federal government.
However, Orubebe vowed to appeal the ruling, explaining that he did not include the said plot of land in his asset declaration because he had given it away to his former landlord as payment for the rent he owed him.
In a notice of appeal filed by his lawyer, Selekeowei Larry, SAN, before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, Orubebe asked the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the CCT.
Orubebe argued that the tribunal erred in law when it held that the prosecution proved its case and ordered the forfeiture of the property in issue.
The former minister posited that he neither acquired the said plot of land corruptly nor even purchased it, rather it was a gift to him by the Federal Government.
Orubebe said he led credible evidence, which the prosecution did not fault, about how he sold the land to a company called Divention Properties Limited, with the company’s Managing Director, Akinwumi Ajibola, testifying to that effect during trial.
He faulted the CCT for holding that he remained the owner of the plot of land on the grounds that Divention, to whom the property was sold, did not effect change of ownership.
He said, “Not only were the deed of assignment, deed of sale and power of attorney tendered and admitted in evidence, defence witnesses one and two (Ajibola and Orubebe) testified to the transaction without any contradiction. There is no time limit for regularisation of title at the Land Registry.”
Orubebe further argued against the decision of the CCT, to the effect that it erred in law when, rather than keeping itself within the evidence before it and the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal (CCB/T) Act, it went and relied on the Land Instrument Registration Act (LIRA), without hearing from counsel on both sides.
The Federal Government had on March 8, 2016, re-arraigned Orubebe on an amended charge of failure to declare his property at Plot 2057, Asokoro District, Abuja, in his asset declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau as a minister between 2007 and 2011.