Former minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Peter Orubebe has said he is not guilty as pronounced by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), chairman, Danladi Umar, adding that he will appeal the judgement to secure the ‘ordinary empty land which he had since sold for the man who bought it.’
Orubebe who maintained that he did not declare the said empty land in Asokoro District, because it was no longer in his possession when he left office said, “ It won’t be fair to the innocent man who bought the ordinary empty land from me when I was in distress.’
Orubebe, who believes he is being prosecuted over his outburst at the 2015 Presidential Election collation centre in Abuja, in an attempt to protest the outcome of the election, said his lawyer, Mr Selekowei Larry (SAN) will appeal against the judgment which he described as “travesty of Justice”.
According to him, the verdict was a clear example of “convict him at all cost” syndrome. He explained that the said empty plot in the Asokoro district was allocated to him by the government in 2007 as part of his ministerial entitlements. He told the tribunal that he decided to sale the land after he defaulted in the payment of his Abuja house for two years.
Elder Orubebe told LEADERSHIP via telephone that whereas his monthly salary and every other allowances he collected in 2007 amounted to only N1. 3m, he said the salary was further reduced to N990, 000 in 2008.
“As at September 26, 2007, I never had a property named plot 2057 Asokoro District, Abuja. So I could not have declared it upon my assumption of office as a Minister. On June 29, 2011 when I was temporarily disengaged from the Federal Executive Council when it was dissolved before I was re-appointed, I never also had Plot 2057 Asokoro District. So I could not have declared it as mine because it was no longer my property,” Orubebe said.
“As an honest Nigerian, other pieces of land that were given to me by the government I served, I declared them. The plot in question which was ordinary empty land in the bush that was given to me by the federal government that I served, bear the offer letter from the FCT Minister.”
“I decided to give it out to my landlord, Barr. Ajibola to settle for my two years house rent. This is because, so many people do not know that the annual salary of a Minister, accommodation, transportation and inclusive of everything, per month in 2007, was N1.3m, by 2008, it came down to N990, 000.”
“It’s is important to disclose that annual salary of a Minister from that time and even today cannot pay rent for him in befitting places like Maitama, Asokoro, Mabushi or Wuse 2. All Ministers in the FEC were given offer letters. Therefore when I got the offer letter for the land, I saw it as an opportunity to settle my house rent. I never saw the land and the C of O. The same day it was given to me was the same day I parted with it for N10m for two years house rent of N5m each.”
“I love this country, but I have a pain in my heart. When oil production went down to 700, 000 barrels per day, this was the man, the only Minister that went to the creeks to meet the militants. I slept in the creeks with militants for two weeks, an effort that led to the amnesty programme and subsequent increase of oil production from 700, 000 barrels to 2.6m barrels.”
“The same country that I served is now taking me through this rigours over an ordinary empty plot of land it also gave to me which I sold to pay my rent to have a roof over my head to be able to serve. This is my regret. Now the Niger Delta is boiling again, who will see what I am going through and agree to stick out his neck. My country has not treated me well, my lord my heart is heavy. I am a sad ma,” Orubebe lamented from the witness box.
BY CHRISTIANA NWAOGU