Nigerian public officers are required to declare “immediately after taking office and thereafter all” their properties, assets, and liabilities and those of his (or her) unmarried children under the age of eighteen years,” Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution stipulates (Section 11, Part of the Fifth Schedule).
PREMIUM TIMES investigation also found that Mr Obi breached this constitutional provision on assets declaration. We can authoritatively report that Mr Obi did not declare to the Code of Conduct Bureau the companies he tucked away in offshore secrecy havens.
Mr Obi caused to be created for him a structure of secrecy that had previously, until the Pandora Papers investigation, meant he could continue to hold foreign assets in a way that breaches Nigeria’s law without the knowledge of authorities in the country. In an extra layer of secrecy, Mr Obi used paid nominees as directors, while he remains the ultimate beneficial owner, making it nearly impossible to discover his interests in those companies but we obtained rare incorporation documents proving his link.
Otherwise, Mr Obi could have forever hoped to continue to hold the assets, that he did not declare when he had a statutory obligation to do so as a governor, without any authority or the public calling him to account.
In his response, Mr Obi ridiculously suggested that those offshore companies and assets are jointly owned with his family members and that he was not under obligation to declare companies jointly owned. “I don’t declare what is owned with others,” Mr Obi told PREMIUM TIMES. “If my family owns something I won’t declare it. I didn’t declare anything I jointly owed with anyone.”
This is contrary to the position of the Constitution, which specifies the declaration of all assets, whether jointly or partly owned, PREMIUM TIMES’ reporters told Mr Obi. He said he was not aware of that provision of the law.
Nevertheless, leaked records show Mr Obi is the sole ultimate beneficial owner of the offshore companies. So he did not even jointly own it with anyone.
In that case, Mr Obi has violated Nigeria’s Code of Conduct law and, if authorities decide to act appropriately, he could be arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, a special court that tries public officers for any contravention of the Code of Conduct for Nigerian public officers as spelt out in the Fifth Schedule of the Nigerian constitution.
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) were established to enforce “a high standard of morality in the conduct of government business, and to ensure that the actions and behaviour of public officers conform to the highest standards of public morality and accountability.”
Source: PREMIUM TIMES