Chief Okoi Obono-Obla’s case before Prof Bolaji Owasanoye’s led Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) is a classic example of what many has described as a witch hunt perpetrated by a corrupt cabal who want to take their pound of flesh from the ex-SPIP Boss probably because their ox was gored from the series of investigations, indictments and property seizures by the disbanded investigative panel.
SecretReporters gathered that following the disbandment of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel (SPIP) for the recovery of public property after their erstwhile boss Chief Okoi Obono-Obla was accused of forgery, men of the ICPC reportedly stormed his residence on 20th March 2020 and took him into detention for questioning. After his arrest, his lawyers shortly after his arrival at the facility demanded to see their client in line with the provisions of the law but their request we learned was turned down.
As though baptized in illegality, while the lawyers proceeded to the court which should have been the next point of call for the ICPC in accordance to Section 35 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution that stipulates that an accused should be charged to court within 24 hours of his arrest, they were greeted with the news that the ICPC proceeded to engage the erstwhile chairman in a marathon grilling session without the presence of his lawyers.
However, one of Obono-Obla’s lawyers was only allowed access to him after three days of his detainment, precisely on 23rd March 2020. Without allowing the lawyer adequate time to confer with his client, the ICPC boss who doubles as a Professor at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, immediately began another 10-hour questioning session after which Obono-Obla who before this time was managing acute hypertension began bleeding profusely from his nostrils thus prompting his immediate rush to the National Hospital, Abuja for treatment.
“We don’t know what is wrong with Chief. We don’t know why he is suddenly bleeding from his nostrils”, His wife and doctor explained.
As though on a mission to put the erstwhile chairman’s health in jeopardy, sources also revealed that not minding the intermittent bleeding from the nostrils being experienced by Chief Obono-Obla after his discharge same day by the hospital, the ICPC declined to take him back to the hospital for a check-up as directed by the doctor while also refusing the application of his lawyers for his doctor to see him.
Apparently, on a personal vendetta with the former chairman who he has kept in custody for forgery bailable within 24 hours, lawyers to Obono-Obla disclosed that Professor Owasanoye gave impossible bail conditions for his release.
The lawyers in a press release stated that “…The bail conditions are impossible, they are asking for: Two sureties (A Permanent Secretary and Director) who are in the employment of the Federal Government of Nigeria on Grade Level 17 and above. The sureties will produce their letters of appointment, letters of last promotion, Identity cards and a passport photograph. The sureties must come along with their introduction letters from superior officers in their offices. The two sureties must have landed property situated at Maitama/ Guzape or Asokoro with Original Certificate of Occupancy verifiable from the appropriate land Agency. The Respondent must submit his international passport to the Commission. With the most impossible of all being that the surety must be willing to sign a bond of Ten Million Naira only (=N= 10, 000, 000.00) or a surety in the like sum. Where does he expect Chief to get all these from”.
Obono-Obla’s lawyers have since approached a Federal High Court which ordered that the ICPC should vary the already granted bail conditions; an order we learned was flatly refused by the ICPC.
Despite directives by various security agencies to ensure the release of all detained individuals in the light of the COVID-19, the ICPC boss as though taking orders from a superior who has a special interest in harming the former investigative panel boss, allegedly released all individuals who were detained in its facility on bail leaving only Chief Okoi Obono-Obla in the facility at the mercy of the pandemic.
It is yet unclear if the ICPC boss has a personal score he intends settling with Chief Obono-Obla as many have also opined that a cabal may be influencing the case against the disbanded SPIP boss because they were grossly affected by the activities of his panel.