Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), says the directives by the offices of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation, regarding the Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), are against public interest.
Since Osinbajo set up the panel during his stint as acting president in August 2017, the VP has sent at list three letters in response to petitions which his office and that of the AGF have received.
These appeals have bordered on the power of the panel to carryout arrests and investigate cases not authorised by the presidency.
On the sideline of a press breifing to increase attention on SPIP’s latest discovery, Suraju told SaharaReporters that it appeared there were internal contradictions which the presidency will need to resolve.
“I don’t believe that such directive from the office of the Vice-President and the Attorney General, can be seen in the public interest. I think there must be some measure of internal contradictions that need to be resolved by the government. As far as it is seen, the panel is still working in the public interest until we see otherwise,” Suraju maintained.
The contention of the two government officials and the SPIP, which is headed by Okoi Obono-Obla, is Section 1 (1) of the Recovery of Public Property Act 2004.
The section confers the right of the presidency to determine what cases SPIP goes after. The correspondence convened by both officials to SPIP, directed the agency to put the breaks on its investigations pending clear directives to do so.
Suraju said, “It can get a generic or blanket fiat from the president to say, ‘go ahead and recover public properties that are in private hands in whatever guise.’ Once the president gives a singular directive or fiat to the effect that It has authorised the SPIP to go after the recovery of public assets, I doubt if the president will give individual fiat for every action that will be taken.”
He added that the body could not act on the whims and caprices of the Presidency
The briefing was on the opening of an investigation into the finances and assets of the entire management team of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund Management Board (PEF-MB).
Goddy Nnadi, the board’s General Manager Corporate Services, is said to have been taken into custody last Monday.
Nnadi was accused of operating a hotel— Greatwood, in Oweri, the Imo State capital, in breach of public service rules.
A total of 49 companies are said to be paying monies into accounts operated by him. The official, who has been in agency since 1998, is also said to have received up to N2 billion through the 49 companies.
When contacted, Nnadi stated that the case was under investigation at the office and he could only speak when investigations have been concluded.
Nnadi, who said he was on a training at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, in Plateau state, claimed that politicking had been at play since his absence.