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I haven’t been served suspension letter -Obono-Obla

Okoi Obono-Obla, former chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), says he has not been s...

Okoi Obono-Obla, former chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), says he has not been served a suspension letter.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had declared Obono-Obla wanted after he refused to honour an invitation to answer to allegations of forgery and financial impropriety.

In a letter addressed to him through Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation in August, President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the former SPIP chairman, pending the conclusion of investigations by the ICPC.

The probe of alleged wrongdoings in the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) led to Obono-Obla’s sack.

But in a Facebook post on Saturday, the ex-SPIP chairman said he is yet to receive an official letter notifying him of his suspension.

He said the federal government sentenced him to a media trial, and that he has not been given fair-hearing on the allegations against him.

“I was purportedly suspended as Chairman of the now disbanded Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property through an announcement in the media! Until this moment I am yet to be served a letter to that effect,” he wrote.

“Prior to my suspension there had been two failed attempts to remove me because I was seen as ‘uncompromising, uncontrollable and a non-team player’ by some people in the upper rung of government. For example on the 25 January, 2019, I received a letter from the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice President directing me to suspend the activities of the Panel.

“But I simply decided to ignore the letter because the Panel was only answerable to the President and Commander in Chief by virtue of the provisions of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, 2004 (not to the office of the Vice President). However, I want to state that my purported suspension was indeed a breach of the dictates of fair hearing and the procedure laid down in the Public Service Rules regarding the suspension of a public officer.”

Obono-Obla also said the procedure for removing a public servant was not followed in his sack.

“In my own case, I was informed in the media of my purported suspension and directed to report myself to ICPC! This is absurd!” he wrote.

“Under our constitutional/criminal jurisprudence a suspect is presumed innocent till the contrary is proved! Directing me via the media to report to ICPC to prove my innocence tantamounts to prejudging me even before commencement of the investigation of the allegations made against me.”

Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), had accused Obono-Obla of carrying out 50 illegal investigations while he was chairman of SPIP.

But in a letter to Buhari, the ex-SPIP chairman accused Osinbajo’s office of persecuting him for being loyal to the president.

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