The Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property has sent to the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Mr Dayo Apata, a list containing reports on 23 cases being handled by the panel up till the time its Chairman, Okoi Obono-Obla, was suspended.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on August 14, 2019, through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, suspended Obono-Obla and directed Apata to take charge of the panel.
Mustapha said Obono-Obla would be investigated for records falsification and extortion.
In compliance with the SGF’s directive, Apata sent an August 15, 2019 letter to then head of the panel’s legal unit, Dr Celsus Ukpong, demanding reports on “all cases instituted or involving the panel” within 48 hours.
Ukpong’s letter dated August 29, 2019 and containing reports on 23 cases of the SPIP, was addressed to Apata, who doubles as the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice.
Some of the cases on the list included criminal cases against the Anambra North senator, Stella Oduah, and the President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick and four other NFF officials.
Other prominent cases which were either for interim forfeiture or fundamental rights enforcement included, Akwa Ibom North-East senator, Bassey Akpan, ex-governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, Access Bank Plc, and the International Tower Limited.
On Oduah’s case, Ukpon’s letter reports, “FRN V. Senator Stella Adaeze Oduah FHC/ABJ/CR/108/2019.
“This matter is pending before Court 4 of the Federal High Court in Abuja. The charge is on non-declaration of assets, before the panel, possession of foreign accounts, etc,”
The report identified two cases involving Pinnick.
Reporting on the one with suit number, FHC/ABJ/CR/93/19 and named, FRN V. Amaju Melvin Pinnick & four others, Ukpong stated, “We filed 17 count charges against the respondents. At the last date, they all failed to come to court to take plea. The court issued bench warrant against four of them. We are yet to execute the bench warrant. The matter was adjourned till the 26/9/19 for taking of plea.”
On another case involving Pinnick marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/17/2019, Ukpong stated that it was “an originating summon seeking to answer questions pertaining to the powers of the panel to Investigate the applicant. Matter adjourned till 14/10/19 for adoption of written addresses of the parties.”
Concerning Oduah’s case, report stated, “This matter is pending before Court 4 of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
“The charge is on non-declaration of assets, before the panel, possession of foreign accounts, etc.
“The court has issued summons for the defendant to appeal on the next adjourned date to take plea to the charge. The next adjourned date is October 9, 2019.”
On Senator Akpan’s case, the report stated, “The defendant appeared before the panel. He wrote his statement denying the allegations against him.
“On his neglect or failure to complete and return assets declaration form, we filed a charge against him in suit FHC/ABJ/CR/108/2018”.
The report also highlighted some other cases which are challenging the powers of the SPIP to file and case in court.