Corruption: How Nigerian Govt stops recovery of stolen billions – IROHIN ODUA

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Corruption: How Nigerian Govt stops recovery of stolen billions

By Ologeh Joseph Chibu

Fresh facts have emerged that Nigeria is not genuine and grossly unserious in the fight against corruption.

In Nigeria, corruption is pervasive, affects all levels of government.

Former Chairman, Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Mr Obono-Obla during Mic On Podcast by Seun Okinbaloye revealed heart-troubling cases of the deep rooted corruption in the country within government officials which he was prevented from investigating or which reports of investigation were mocked by the Nigerian authorities.

He listed several corruption instances involving Government officials which he was either asked to sweep under the carpet or his reports simply thrown into the thrash bin.

Okoi Obono-Obla is a Nigerian lawyer and anti-corruption crusader known for his tireless efforts to combat corruption.

He served under former President Mohammadu Buhari.

He served as the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), where he gained recognition for his unwavering commitment to exposing and recovering stolen assets.

He listed the case of a Nigerian politicians who had 80 brand new S-Class Mercedes Benz cars, along with houses, farms, and motorcycles, all hidden away in a luxurious estate.

He said the vehicles, he learned, were armored and had evaded customs duties and taxes.

“I wrote to the DG of Customs, do this people pay Custom duty on the vehicles, 80 Brand New S Class Armoured plated, the CG of Customs said no they didn’t pay.”

“I wrote to Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, do these people pay tax, if they have money to buy this kind of vehicles, they should be paying inward tax to Nigerian government. They said no, they don’t have any record of them paying tax.”

He said he was determined to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Obla took the matter to court and secured an order of forfeiture. He said he briefed the Attorney General on the progress, expecting support and swift action.

“However, the Attorney General’s response was lukewarm at best. The cars and properties, instead of being held as evidence, were gradually returned to their original owners, undermining the entire operation.”

He mentioned another distressing revelation when he unearthed the financial misdeeds of a former military governor and then-sitting
Senator.

He said “The Senator had accumulated over two hundred million pounds in offshore accounts.”

He said his team deployed intelligence to conduct a thorough investigation and submitted his findings to both the President and the Attorney General.

He said yet, to his dismay, no action was taken, and the s
Senator continued to enjoy his ill-gotten wealth without repercussions.

He said one of the most shocking moments in his career came when he received a letter from an American law firm.

“The letter disclosed the existence of a Texas bank account holding over sixty-nine billion US dollars, derived from stolen Nigerian crude oil. The sum was staggering.”

He said he knew its recovery could transform Nigeria’s fortunes. He immediately informed the President and the Attorney General, urging them to authorize the necessary steps to reclaim the funds.

But the response was disheartening. He said the Attorney General mocked him sarcastically questioning his ability to recover the money without official support. Despite the clear evidence and the promise of such a significant recovery, he said the government remained inactive.

He said the media covered the story, with Punch publishing details even while former President Mohammadu Buhari was in office, but the administration’s indifference prevailed.

He said frustration and disappointment began to weigh heavily on him.

He said he had believed fervently in the leadership he served, passionately supporting the President in whom he had placed his trust.

He said the inaction and dismissive attitudes from those in power left him disillusioned.

Reflecting on his experiences, Obla could see the vast impact of corruption on Nigeria’s underdevelopment.

He said the sixty-nine billion dollars alone could have revolutionized the country’s education system, provided clean water, and improved infrastructure.

Instead, the wealth of the nation was siphoned away, leaving the citizens to suffer.

The enormity of corruption was merely the tip of the iceberg. Obla said he knew that there were countless more instances of graft and theft yet to be uncovered. Despite the setbacks and the seemingly insurmountable challenges, he said he remained steadfast in his mission.

He said he is resolved to continue fighting for justice, driven by the hope that one day, his beloved Nigeria would rise above the corruption that had long plagued it.

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