Barely two weeks after he was fingered in the illegal reinstatement of the former chairman of the Pension Reforms Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has stirred another controversy.
The AGF is locked in a battle of wit with the Chairman of the Special Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, Okoi Obono-Obla.
Malami had on behalf of the Federal Government written a letter suspending Obla over alleged acts of lawlessness. According to government, for engaging in acts that run contrary to the enabling act establishing the panel, Obono-Obla should, henceforth, desist from carrying out any operation in his capacity as head of the panel.
The letter addressed to Obono-Obla, dated November 1 with file number: HAGF/SH/2017/VOL/1/60, signed by Malami (SAN), noted that the panel’s activities have contravened established administrative procedures and protocols in the country’s civil service structure while insisting on immediate and strict compliance with the directives.
The letter also instructed Obono-Obla to, henceforth, seek clearance from the AGF before granting any media interview or making press statements on official matters.
It also directed him to provide a detailed up-to-date report on the panel’s activities to Malami for onward transmission to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Malami’s letter entitled: “Re: Directive in respect of Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, chairman of the Special Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property,” it was gathered, emanated from an earlier one sent to him by the vice president.
The AGF wrote: “I have received a letter Ref. SH/OVP/DCOS/FMJ/0424 dated October 20, 2017, in respect of the above subject from the office of the Vice President.
“In the said letter, the vice president expressed his concerns on the activities of the Special Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, which runs contrary to the enabling Act establishing it. He also noted that the activities of the panel run foul or contrary to established administrative procedures and protocols in the Federal Civil Service structure.
“In view of the foregoing, coupled with the directives contained in the letter under reference, you are, hereby, directed to refrain from any further action or taking any step in your capacity as the chairman of the Special Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property, with immediate effect, until directed otherwise, by His Excellency, the vice president.
“While you are to await further instructions in respect of the panel’s mandate, you are, hereby, directed to promptly provide a detailed up-to-date report on the activities of the panel to the undersigned for onward transmission to the vice president.
“Furthermore, you are required to, henceforth, seek clearance from the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice before granting any media interview or making press releases on official matters.”
Meanwhile, Obono-Obla has stated that there was no directive from the presidency relieving him of his appointment. He urged the public to disregard information purportedly removing him as chairman of the panel.
A statement issued in Abuja, last night and signed by an Assistant Director (Press), Lucieann Laha said: “The attention of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property has been drawn to a purported news in the media that the Chairman of the Panel, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, has been removed.
“While there is a letter from the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, based on a purported letter from the office of the Vice President to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, drawing attention to certain procedural issues and which an appropriate response is being prepared, there is no iota of truth in the purported removal of the chairman of the panel.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there was no such directive from the presidency to the chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property relieving him of his office and the information purportedly removing the chairman should be disregarded.”
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