President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, of his support and non-interference, in line with the Policy of his administration in this regard.
The President urged the Panel to remain steadfast in the discharge of its duties in accordance with the provisions of its enabling Act.
He gave this assurance to the Panel recently while receiving updates on the Panel from its chairman, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla.
The Chairman of the Panel who briefed the President on the Panel’s activities and challenges since inception, highlighted its achievements to include the recovery of Seven Million Dollars ($7M), illegally placed in Heritage Bank, Five Hundred and Thirty Three Million Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N533,200,000.00), and land valued at N1.5 Billion, all from the previous management of NEXIM Bank. These have since been returned to the Bank.
The Panel has also recovered and returned to the management of the National Theatre, the sum of Twenty Four Million Naira (N24,000,000.00), which was diverted by some Directors of the Agency; as well as two hectares of land in Abuja; valued at over Two Billion Naira (N2,000,000,000.00), belonging to the National Council of Arts and Culture.
Additionally, the Presidential Panel has recovered and returned to the Nigerian Ports Authority, Part of Agura Hotel, which, though rightfully belonging to the NPA, had been illegally annexed by some so-called powerful persons, with untouchable connections for over 20 years.
Also recovered are 19 SUVs, from former Commissioners of the National Population Commission (NPC) being their official vehicles, which they illegally made away with at the end of their tenures.
The Presidential Panel has also charged to Court a Director in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, for failure to declare his assets, and has obtained an interim forfeiture order from a Court of competent jurisdiction; over same. These include six houses in highbrow locations within Abuja, a Quarry, and Farm, also within the FCT, pending either his due declaration of the said assets or expiration of the period of interim forfeiture, after which they will be handed over to the Federal Government.
The SPIP is also investigating some members of the National Assembly and former Governors for alleged offences that range from illegal purchase of designated official residences for Principal Officers of the National Assembly excluded from the monetization policy at give away prices, purchase of several property abroad, worth hundreds of millions in various currencies, and flagrant abuse of office, thus causing financial adversity to the nation.
Furthermore, the Panel is partnering with the UK’s Home Secretary, towards ensuring that some public officers perceived to have looted public funds and illegally acquired assets in Nigeria and the UK, are denied entry into that country. It is also liaising with the Serious Fraud Office of the UK, for investigation of such persons, in line with its Unexplained Wealth Law.
Other partnerships include those with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and US Treasury Office of Financial Crimes, for the same purposes.
The Presidential Panel has spread its investigation net to cover several companies including Celtel; for failure to pay tax to the Federal Government, since 2005, Western Oil and Gas; for illegally drilling crude oil in Delta State, 7 other Oil Companies; for failure to pay royalties to the Federal Government for about 10 years.
Others are multi-national oil companies; based in Egi Kingdom, Rivers State; for conniving with some unscrupulous individuals, to circumvent its obligations to the community allegedly to the tune of N38 Billion and $30 Million respectively.
Also under investigation by the Panel is another company which has failed to fulfill its contractual agreement to dredge the Calabar Channel, years after receiving the sum of $12 Million.
The Panel has similarly compiled a list of over 200 past and serving public officers, perceived to have illegally enriched themselves at the expense of the Nation and the Nigerian people; among other things.
Bolstered by the President’s assurance and support, the Chairman has said that the Panel would remain resolute in the bid to achieve its mandate and complement the efforts of the President in the fight against corruption. He urged Nigerians to support the Panel with useful leads that may assist in the recovery of the looted assets of the nation.
It would be recalled that the Panel was established by the then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in August 2017, in accordance with the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act CAP. R4.