Suspended chairman of recently scrapped Special Presidential Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), Okoi Obono-Obla, has expressed disappointment that the government he served with his utmost ability allegedly betrayed him.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, he described his current ordeal as a calculated ploy by some powerful forces close to the government to break him and portray him in a bad light before Nigerians.
Obono-Obla said he felt betrayed that the same government that assigned him dangerous duties has failed to protect him.
He said: “I want to open up to Nigerians the forces that masterminded what is happening to me, despite my efforts to execute a very tough and difficult assignment given to me, which has exposed me to victimisation.
“The government has left me unprotected and I seriously fear for my life and those of members of my family. Even before my suspension was announced, my security detail was immediately withdrawn, thereby exposing me to possible attack by those I had stepped on their toes.
“Suspension is not dismissal. So, it was strange and curious that the government withdrew my security, knowing that I did a very dangerous job, which required government to throw a security ring around me.
“My former office had been sealed since August 10, 2019, which effectively prevents me from having access to materials to use to, even prepare my defence. I have been treated with utmost ignominy, despite the massive work I did in just two years in the panel, which had no structure when it took off in August 2017.
“Everything I have is what I had before I came into government in 2016. Everything I have was acquired between 2003 and 2012 when I was in private legal practice. So, it is laughable and extremely ridiculous for ICPC (the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission) to claim that I am being investigated for living beyond my means.
“I live in a rented three-bed room apartment in Abuja. Two weeks ago, the rent became due and I was on the verge of being ejected. I had to appeal to a good, prominent Nigerian, who used to be a member of the House of Representatives from Delta State, to pay my rent, which he graciously did. I have only a rickety vehicle which I bought in 2014.
“The panel (SPIP) was never funded by the government. It was given a take-off grant, which was domiciled in the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation. I had no access to the money. I only receive allowance at the end of the month.
“So, ICPC’s claim that I am being investigated for financial improprieties is also laughable. I didn’t award any contract, because there was none to be awarded; the panel never had any money to even carry out operations.
“All the success the panel recorded was through my passion, drive and dogged approach and the support I had from operatives who worked with me. The office we had was given to us by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.”
“For almost one year, we couldn’t move because we had no furniture. My personal efforts led the NDIC (Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation) to donate N20 million that was used to purchase furniture and other office equipment.
“I was victimised by powerful institutions, including the Eighth National Assembly, for daring to investigate some powerful senators. A committee was set up by the House of Representatives to investigate the legality of the panel, but rather than do that, the committee launched an investigation into my educational qualifications, leading to the distortions that I forged my School Certificate.
“A kangaroo report was issued, despite the fact that I had gone to court to challenge the legality of the committee investigating me personally outside its terms of reference. Despite the court action, the committee still conducted a one-sided investigation and issued a report, which the ICPC is now using against me.
“The government did not protect me, despite the fact that my job was difficult, challenging and dangerous. They exposed me to attacks and hatred from those the panel was investigating. What you are seeing is a gang-up against me by these powerful forces,” Obono-Obla said.