By Patrick Obia
As reported by The Nation Newspaper, the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP) Chief Okoi Obono-Obla has explained why his agency’s offices in Abuja are closed by Policemen.
Although the SPIP’s offices were reportedly sealed from last Saturday evening as a curtain raiser to a supposed planned change in its leadership, Obono-Obla was silent on whether or not his office was threatened.
In a statement on Monday, Obono-Obla blamed entrenched interests for what he described as the constant attack on the SPIP, rather than being praised for its positive efforts in the current administration’s anti-corruption policy.
He said: “The past few days have been aghast with media reports of police sealing the offices of the Special Presidential investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP).
“My attention was drawn to the unfortunate news item making the rounds and thereafter inundated with calls from members of the public who are seeking to know the true position of events concerning the purported sealing of the SPIP offices in Abuja by armed policemen.
“I am yet to receive an official briefing on the issue since SPIP’s staff are observing the Eid-el Kabir holiday and away from our desks.
“It is time we call the myths out for what they are, as the news making the rounds appears to us as a smear campaign from people with their protectionist agenda in favour of persons being investigated.
“The picture being painted of SPIP bears no resemblance to the reality on the ground.
“SPIP from inception has worked within the dictates of its mandate and takes tremendous pride in the work it does towards recovering misappropriated Government funds.
“SPIP officials have made and continue to contribute vitally to the fight against corruption, and daily, we are recovering monies owed the government in billions and calling upon high profile persons and seemingly ’untouchabie’ persons who have illegally enriched themselves from government coffers at the expense of members of the public, to come forward and answer to their crimes and make refunds of misappropriated Government monies.
“The efforts of the SPIP in the fight against corruption in Nigeria deserve to be recognised instead, we are being dismissed with misleading scare stories and arm-twisting of the panel officials by ‘highly placed Nigerians’ wishing to protect some persons under our investigation and thereby distracting the panel from carrying out its lawful mandate.
“We have examples of many high-profile cases where misappropriated public funds were traced to the personal bank accounts of public servants and rather than explain the source of the funds, they resort to false petitions and unfairly attacking the officials of the panel.
“We therefore reiterate SPIP’s commitment to the essential work we do,” Obono-Obla said.