PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari appears to have unceremoniously sacked the chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property Okoi Obono-Obla after police sealed off his office this morning.
In a bizarre incident, police sealed off Mr Obono-Obla’s Abuja office located in Asokoro without him being aware of what was going on. A senior special assistant to President Buhari, Mr Obono-Obla was not at his offices when it was sealed and no official announcement has been made by the presidency.
However, one presidency source said the police action followed a directive from the presidency that Mr Obono-Obla should be relieved of his appointment immediately. According to the source, Mr Obono-Obla was aware of the communication relieving him of his appointment but that he has been dodging it so he could use the holiday period to persuade people close to President Buhari to talk the government into rescinding its decision.
“They have asked Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to start investigating corruption allegations around him. The police were brought in to restrict movement in the office, so nobody would tamper with evidence while investigation is going on.
“The panel is still in place, it’s only Mr Obono-Obla that has been removed. They have built a case of corruption and overzealousness against him over time, it’s not an emergency action, so it may be difficult for the decision to be rescinded,” the source added.
Mr Obono-Obla said: “I don’t know about that. If they removed me, they would give me a letter? Is it not so?”
He added that he was in his office on Friday but later left for the holidays in his hometown in Cross River State before he received information about the sealing of the office. Mr Obono-Obla’s anti-corruption job has been marred by allegations that he forged his secondary school certificate.
An ad hoc panel set up by the House of Representatives in December last year, had asked President Buhari to sack him over the forgery allegation. In addition, the panel had also accused Mr Obono-Obla of corruption.
However, Mr Obono-Obla had said at the time that the forgery and corruption allegations against him were merely a witch-hunt by people who were uncomfortable with his anti-corruption fight. He added that it the government wants to remove him, they should give him a letter to that effect.