By Ade Adesomoju, Premium Times
The anti-corruption agency has dropped the charges of school result falsification and forgery it levelled against the ex-presidential aide in 2019.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has amended the corruption and certificate forgery charges it filed against an ex-presidential aide, Okoi Obono-Obla.
The amendment, coming less than two months after Mr. Obono-Obla and his co-defendants were arraigned by the commission, reduced the number of counts from 10 to five.
The amended charges filed at the High Court of the FCT, in Apo, Abuja, on March 4 and seen by Premium Times on Sunday, also revealed that the anti-corruption agency has backtracked on its allegations of certificate forgery sensationally levelled against Mr Obono-Obla in 2019.
Obono-Obla’s Suspension, Sacking:
Mr. Obono-Obla, a former Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecutions, was suspended by the President as the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP) for the Recovery of Public Property in August 2019 over “alleged falsification of records and financial impropriety against your person.”
The President suspended Mr. Obono-Obla in an August 14, 2019 letter signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
About a month later, on September 17, 2019, the President disbanded the SPIP, ordered the ICPC to probe the allegations against Mr. Obono-Obla, and prosecute him.
The commission subsequently declared Mr. Obono-Obla wanted and arrested him in March 2020.
On July 1, 2020, the ICPC filed 10 counts against him and his co-defendants at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
But the commission subsequently withdrew the charges and refiled the 10 counts at the FCT High Court on July 8, 2020 with Mr. Obono-Obla, his former Senior Assistant, Special Duties (Protocol), Aliyu Ibrahim, and the Managing Director of ABR Global Petroleum Resources Ltd, Daniel Omughele Efe, charged as co-defendants.
ICPC accused Mr. Obono-Obla in two of the 10 counts of forgery and falsification of his O’Level examination result with which he was allegedly admitted to University of Jos (UNIJOS) to study Law.
He was specifically accused “of dishonestly using as genuine”, “a Mary Knoll College, Ogoja General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level, May/June 1982 (GCE) Statement of Result for Ofem Okoi Ofem with candidate No: 09403/247 showing an O’Level credit (6) score for Literature in English as part of the five O’Level credit requirement” for him to study Law for the 1985/86 academic session in UNJOS.
The commission alleged that he used the result when he “had reason to believe that the document (GCE), the basis upon which you were admitted to study Law in UNIJOS, was forged as you never sat for the English Literature examination for May/June 1982 GCE.”
But in the amended charges filed by ICPC on March 4, 2021, the commission dropped the two charges of result forgery and falsification contained in the original 10 counts.
Aside from reducing the total number of counts to five, the commission also removed Mr. Efe’s name from the charges leaving Mr. Obono-Obla and Mr. Ibrahim as the remaining defendants.
The amendment also saw the removal of “diversion” of funds from the charges.
It also removed the N19,994,185 allegedly diverted by the defendants in July 2019.
The prosecution substituted the N10, 174,000 with N10, 174,000 which it now claims, in the amended charges, to have been paid to some contractors from the N15, 187, 917 the NDIC was said to jave paid to some contractors for the furnishing of the SPIP offices.
In the previous charges, ICPC claimed the N19,994,185 was paid into Mr. Ibrahim’s personal account, but in the amended charges, it claims the N10, 174,000 was paid into the account of ABR Global Petroleum Resources LTD, a company where Mr. Ibrahim was said to be a director and signatory to its account.
The trial judge, Olukayode Adeniyi, had on January 23, 2021 after the defendants were re-arraigned, fixed March 17 for commencement for trial.
But with the amendment of the charges, Mr. Obono-Obla and Mr. Ibrahim will likely be re-arraigned on amended charges on the date for the resumed hearing.
Part of the amended charges read, “That you OKOI OFEM OBONO-OBLA(M) (aka Ofern Oko Ofem) and ALIYU IBRAHIM (M) m the month of April 2019 or thereabout, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this court while being the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) and Senor Assistant Special Duties (Protocol) to the Chairman SPIP, respectively conspired among yourselves to use your positions to confer unfair advantage an Aliyu Ibrahim by diverting the sum of N10,174, 000 (Ten Million, One Hundred and Seventy Four Thousand. Naira) being part of the total sum of N15, 187, 917.00 (Fifteen Million, One Hundred and Eighty Seven Thousand Nine Hundred Seventeen Naira) paid to some contractors by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) for the furnishing of the SPIP offices into the account of ABR Global Petroleum Resources LTD, a company where Aliyu Ibrahim ss a director and signatory to its bank account and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 26(1)() and punishable under section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.
“That you OKOI OFEM Obono-Obla (M) (aka Ofern Oko Ofem) and ALIYU IBRAHIM (M) m the month of April 2019 or thereabout, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this court while being a public officer, to wit: Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) did use your position to confer unfair advantage on your associate (ALIYU IBRAHIM) when the sum of N10, 174, 000 (Ten Million, One Hundred and Seventy Four Thousand Naira) being part of the total sum of N15,187, 917.00 (Fifteen Mullion, One Hundred and Eighty Seven Thousand, Nine Hundred Seventeen Naira) paid to some contractors by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) for the furnishing of the SPIP offices was diverted into the account of ABR Global Petroleum Resources Ltd), a company where Aliyu Ibrahim is a director, and signatory to its hank account without furnishing the said SPIP offices as proposed to the NDIC by you and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.”
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.