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Obolo-Obla: It’s Not A Crime To Change Name, Group Says

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Supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption have risen in support of the suspended chairman of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) headed by Okoi Obono-Obla stating that it was not a crime to do change of name in Nigeria.

According to the group, the suspended SPIP chairman did a change of name from Ofem Okoi Obono to Okoi Obono Obla but is now being hunted by some powerful politicians and civil servants under investigation.

Speaking, the leader of the group, Marthins Luka said Obono- Obla is facing persecution from some powerful forces under investigation and called on President Muhammadu Buhari not to fall into the antics of some forces working hard to hamper his corruption fight.

“Is change of name a crime in Nigeria? He changed his name from Ofem Okoi Obono to Okoi Obono Obla and people are now claiming he forged certificate. This is a man that started the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) from the scratch to where it is today.

“Billions have been recovered for the federal government and the Nigerian people that are now deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria. Now that the president wants to start giving more attention to the SPIP because of their stride, some people under investigation are now after Obono-Obla,” Luka, who is privy to the activities of the panel said.

Also, supporters and promoters of the anti corruption fight of the Buhari-led administration who have also kept a searchlight on the activities of the anti-corruption agencies and institutions charged with the responsibilities of executing the anti corruption war have also thrown their weight behind Obono-Obla.

Beside the commendable efforts of the Ibrahim Magu – led Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the group said another shining light in the fight is the Okoi Obono-Obla led Special Presidential Investigation Panel on Recovery of Public Property (SPIP).

The group, which said the Panel, has continued to record milestones in unravelling corrupt conduct both in the Civil service, among political office holders and ordinary Nigerians within and outside the country, raised an alarm over a big threat to the war.

“We are aware of the recent discoveries of Billions of Naira held in various bank accounts by civil servants, Properties and Assets allegedly aquired by illicit wealth also valued at Billions of Naira as well as properties illegally aquired by public servants and Nigerians outside the country. A key example is the case of some officials of the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF).”

“At the same time we are aware of uncomfortable developments which seem to hamper or at least slow down the activities of the Panel,” the group said.

A joined statement by the Foundation Against Fraud, Indiscipline and Corruption (FAFIC) and Buharists Hangout (BHO) said concerted efforts need to be done by the presidency by ensuring the standard of the fight against corruption set by Buhari did not drop.

Recently, over 40 Police personnel drafted to work for the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on Recovery of Public Property were summoned to an urgent meeting with the Inspector-General of Police on Friday, August 2, 2019 following a letter dated July 31, 2019 and addressed to the Chairman of the SPIP, Chief Okoi Okono-Obla, with reference number CB:4001/IGP.SEC/ABJ/ VOL. 114/518.

The summon, it was gathered, was prompted by a petition written by a suspect being investigated by the panel.

“Notably among people under investigation is the Gubernatorial candidate of the APC in Imo State in the last election, Sen Hope Uzodimm. We are aware there have been attempts to shut down the offices of the Presidential Panel situated at Asokoro Abuja on whatwas referred to as ‘orders from above’ on the premise that the Panel has been disbanded. Our investigations however reveal that the Chairman of the Panel is not aware of any such dissolution,” the administration officer, Foundation Against Fraud, Indiscipline and Corruption (FAFIC), Dr Uche Diala said.

“These developments and others have prompted the urgency and concern for us to ask some pertinent questions: Who is uncomfortable with the work of the Presidential Panel on the Recovery of Public Properties?

Why the relentless push back against the Panel and its Chairman – Chief Okoi Obono-Obla and from who? Is it because he is stepping on big toes or could it be because of his religion or where he comes from? Is the President aware of all that is going on with and around the Panel? Are we really serious about the war against corruption? He asked.

“It should be noted that the SPIP is established by the Recovery of Public Property Special Provisions Act of 2004 and the responsibilities and powers of the panel are clearly spelt out in Section 2 (1) a, b, c of that law.”

“The Panel therefore has powers to investigate the assets of any public officer who has corruptly enriched himself/herself, abused his/her office and violated the Code of Conduct provision in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, or who has contributed to the economic adversity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

“Also, by Section 2 (2) of that law, the Panel has the powers to investigate the assets of a private individual – anybody who has accumulated assets beyond his/her earnings,” he added.

“The Panel has dutifully carried out to the knowledge and commendation of the Nigerian public. It is therefore pertinent that all patriotic

Nigerians and the anti-corruption community take note of and weigh in on what is happening with the Panel,” the Anti-Corruption Desk Officer of the Buharists Hang Out (BHO), Comrade Efe Wiliams said.

“Corruption is surely fighting back but we cannot afford to allow corruption to win. As President Muhammadu Buhari said “If we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”

“We therefore strongly call on the President and Commander in Chief, the Inspector General of Police, the Ministry of Justice and all relevant authorities to urgently investigate the issues surrounding the Presidential Panel with a view to protecting the Panel and strengthening it to ensure its work is not hampered. Nigerians will accept nothing less,” Williams said.

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