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Mind-Boggling Corruption Under Buhari: Aide Says One Person Had 80 Luxury Benz

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The former Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), Okoi Obono-Obla, under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, has exposed shocking details of widespread corruption within the Nigerian government.

Obono-Obla, known for his tenure leading SPIP, highlighted numerous instances of corruption that he encountered during his service, shedding light on the scale of financial misconduct and the frustrating lack of accountability.

One particularly egregious case he recounted involved the discovery of an astounding array of assets belonging to a single individual.

“For instance, there was this case where somebody had 80 brand new armored S-Class Mercedes Benz cars, along with houses, farms, motorcycles, and more, all discovered in a single location in Jabi,” Obono-Obla disclosed during the podcast.

The former SPIP chairman explained that his team intervened immediately, probing whether customs duties had been paid for the fleet of luxury vehicles.

“It turned out, they hadn’t,” he stated, underscoring the blatant disregard for regulatory compliance and accountability.

He said, “I informed the president, expecting action to recover such colossal sums, but to date, nothing has been done.

“I wrote to the Attorney General (Abubakar Malami, SAN) seeking support, only to be met with sarcasm. When I mentioned recovering $69 billion, his response was dismissive.”

“Despite presenting concrete evidence and initiating legal processes, many cases stagnated without resolution.

Obono-Obla also raised concerns about tax evasion associated with these assets, revealing, “I wrote to the Federal Inland Revenue Service about these assets, questioning if taxes were paid. They confirmed no records of tax payments.”

Obono-Obla emphasised that SPIP took proactive steps to secure a court order for the custody of the assets pending further legal proceedings, aiming to uphold transparency and justice in the face of rampant corruption.

Further delving into his tenure’s investigations, Obono-Obla disclosed efforts to uncover offshore assets linked to a prominent former senator and governor.

“Through the Panama Papers, we discovered offshore properties worth over £200 million belonging to this individual,” he revealed, highlighting the international dimensions of the corruption cases his team pursued.

Despite submitting comprehensive reports detailing these findings to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, SAN, Obono-Obla lamented the lack of decisive actions taken by the government.

His revelations suggest a pattern of inertia or reluctance to prosecute high-profile corruption cases, leaving perpetrators largely untouched.

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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