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I Reported Theft Of $69Billion Oil Money To Buhari, He Did Nothing – Obono-Obla

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Former Chairman of Nigeria’s Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), Okoi Obono-Obla, has sparked controversy with explosive allegations of a $69 billion crude oil proceeds theft linked to a Texas-based bank account, criticizing what he perceives as gross governmental inaction in recovering the funds.

Obono-Obla made these revelations during an exclusive interview on the Mic On Podcast by Seun Okinbaloye, where he disclosed receiving a letter from an American law firm detailing the illicit funds.

Expressing frustration over the lack of decisive action, he lamented, “I informed the president (Buhari), expecting action to recover such colossal sums, but to date, nothing has been done.”

The former SPIP chairman further detailed his efforts to seek support from Nigerian authorities, including the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, SAN.

However, he recounted a dismissive response, stating, “When I mentioned recovering $69 billion, his response was dismissive.”

Reflecting on his tenure overseeing SPIP, Obono-Obla criticized systemic failures in addressing corruption allegations.

“Despite presenting concrete evidence and initiating legal processes, many cases stagnated without resolution,” he added with palpable disappointment.

These accusations have reignited scrutiny over Nigeria’s efforts to combat corruption and reclaim misappropriated public assets during President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

SPIP, established in 2017, was tasked with investigating and recovering embezzled funds, yet Obono-Obla’s allegations cast doubt on the effectiveness of these efforts.

However, the former anti-graft official also had his own issues with the law after his exit from the government.

In August 2019, Okoi Obono-Obla was suspended by President Buhari following allegations of falsification of records and financial impropriety.

The suspension, communicated through a letter from the then-Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, directed Obono-Obla’s immediate removal pending investigations by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

The controversy stemmed from accusations that Obono-Obla gained admission to the University of Jos with a forged West African Examination Certificate and falsified records while in office.

Additionally, he faced allegations of abuse of office, conducting unauthorized investigations, and exceeding his mandate at SPIP.

Critics, including members of SPIP, accused him of conducting over 50 investigations outside the panel’s scope for personal gain.

Obono-Obla defended himself, alleging persecution for exposing corruption among powerful lawmakers.

He was later arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) at the Plateau State High Court in Jos, for forgery and falsification related to his educational qualifications.

The ICPC had initially included these charges among ten counts, including corruption allegations, filed against Obono-Obla at the Federal High Court in Abuja on July 1, 2020.

However, these specific charges were withdrawn by the commission and later re-filed at the FCT High Court on July 8, 2020. The charges underwent further amendments on March 4, 2021, which saw the removal of the forgery and falsification counts, along with other corruption charges.

During the court proceedings, Obono-Obla pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him.

Following his plea, the court granted him bail in the sum of N1 million, with one surety who must be a resident of Jos and possess three years’ tax clearance.

Additionally, ICPC was directed to verify the documents of the surety before bail conditions were met.

Obono-Obla’s legal troubles began in August 2019 when President Muhammadu Buhari suspended him from his role as SPIP chairman based on an ICPC report accusing him of “falsification of records and financial impropriety.”

Subsequently, in September 2019, SPIP was disbanded by the president, who ordered ICPC to conclude its investigations and prosecute Obono-Obla.

Among the allegations against him, ICPC accused Obono-Obla of conspiring with his former Senior Assistant, Special Duties, Aliyu Ibrahim, and the Managing Director of ABR Global Petroleum Resources Ltd, Daniel Omughele Efe, to divert N19,994,185 received from the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) for furnishing SPIP offices.

The charges also included accusations that Obono-Obla failed to honor an ICPC invitation for investigation, further complicating his legal predicament.

In the amended charges filed by ICPC in March 2021, significant alterations were made, including the reduction of total counts to five and the removal of Efe’s name from the list of defendants.

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