The attention of the Commission has been called to a press statement issued on social media and signed by one F. Baba Isah, Esq., claiming to be representing other unnamed counsel to Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, the suspended Chairman of the defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel. Chief Obono-Obla was arrested on 20th March, 2020 by the Commission after many months of his refusal to honour the invitations of the Commission requesting him to appear for investigation on the allegations of sundry breaches of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and other allied criminal statutes.
The Commission needs to put it on record that before his arrest, Chief Obono-Obla had been declared wanted and the relevant law enforcement agencies informed to arrest him if found. The 20th March, 2020 when he was eventually arrested by the Commission was a Friday and none of his lawyers came for him to have access as alleged in the press statement. Access to him would definitely have been granted if any lawyer had come on that day. Since the arrest, the Commission has allowed daily access to Chief Obono-Obla by his wife and family members, who bring him food. From 23rd March, 2020 his lawyers, including a respectable Senior Advocate of Nigeria, have also had unencumbered access to him. Furthermore, he received a visit from an Honourable Member of the House of Representatives.
Chief Obono-Obla was granted administrative bail on conditions that the Commission considered appropriate and reasonable based on the circumstances of his disregard for lawful invitations which made him a potential flight risk. In order to ensure he was not illegally detained while investigation was still ongoing, the Commissioned obtained a remand order from the Federal High Court, Abuja authorising his remand pending conclusion of investigation and fixing return date for 7th April, 2020. It is therefore not true as suggested in the press release that he is being illegally detained. His release now can only be approved by the Court.
Chief Obono-Obla being in the Commission’s detention at this period of Corvid-19 pandemic has obligated the Commission to make special arrangements by dedicating a vehicle with a driver and a policeman to convey his wife from home to the Commission and back home twice a day to facilitate his feeding, having refused the food provided by the Commission.
In processing Chief Obono-Obla, due process was ensured as his arrest was done with a warrant, just as the search in his house upon which documents relevant to investigation were retrieved. Items taken away for investigation were listed and the list duly signed by Chief Obono-Obla himself.
About Chief Obono-Obla’s health, he was run through standard medical protocols when he was brought into the Commission and continues to have access to medical care at the National Hospital as necessary.
The point is hereby made that the Commission operates within the provisions of the law at all times and accords the best of consideration to those it has to interact with whether or not in detention. Chief Obono-Obla’s case is no different.