April 15, 2024

Bustan Daily

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15 high-profile corruption case files missing — Investigation

5 min read

The case files of 15 high- profile individuals , including
the Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma , Senator
Peter Nwabaoshi , and others facing graft and other
criminal charges have disappeared , findings by Sunday
PUNCH have revealed .
The missing files also included the non – declaration of
assets and possession of foreign accounts cases against
Anambra North senator , Stella Oduah ; the President of
the Nigerian Football Federation , Amaju Pinnick ; and
four other NFF officials as well Akwa Ibom North – East
Senator, Bassey Akpan, among others .
The case against Uzodimma involved alleged contract
fraud to the tune of N 26 bn . He reportedly received
$ 12 . 5m from the Nigerian Ports Authority in 2014 to
dredge the Calabar channel , but he allegedly failed to
execute the contract .
Sequel to the disappearance of the files , the Ministry of
Justice has written to the former head of the legal unit ,
Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery
of Public Property , Dr Cletus Ukpong , seeking
information on the case files .
The files were said to be among the 23 high profile
cases listed in a handover note by the chairman of the
now defunct SPIP , Okoi Obono – Obla , to the Solicitor –
General of the Federation , Dayo Apata ( SAN ) , in August
2019 , after Obono- Obla was suspended by the
President , Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd . )
on August 14 .
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation ,
Boss Mustapha , subsequently directed Apata , who is
the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of justice , to
take charge of the panel .
But one year after Apata took over the panel , the
whereabouts of the files were said to be unknown,
prompting the Solicitor – General to write to Ukpong for
information on the cases , the parties and the courts
handling them .
The Solicitor – General , in a letter with reference
number , SGF/ PS / SPIPRPP / 733 / 1, dated July 27 , 2020 ,
asked Ukpong to furnish the AGF ’ s office with
information on the 15 court cases and the parties
involved .
The letter was titled , ‘ Re : Request for case files and
demand for accurate information regarding certain
unverifiable suit numbers. ’
The letter read in part , “ Please refer to my letter
reference no . SGF / PS / SPIPRPP / 733 / 1 dated May 6, 2020 ,
wherein I requested that you furnish the office of the
Honourable Attorney – General of the Federation and
Minister of Justice with accurate information detailing
the suit numbers , parties and the courts where the
matters listed below are pending :
“ Suit nos. FHC / ABJ / CR / 108 / 2018 ( FRN vs Stella Oduah );
FHC / ABJ / 1392 / 2018 (Sen Hope Uzodinma & Anor vs
SPIP ); FHC / ABJ / CS / 290 / 2018 / (FRN vs Access Bank Plc );
FHC / CR / 453 / 2019 ; FHC / ABJ / CR / 1107 / 2017 (Chinedu
Udora vs ACP Suleiman Abdul & 2 others );
“ FHC / ABJ / CR / 709 / 2019 (FRN vs Access Bank ); FHC / ABJ /
CR / 570 / 2019 (D. B. Mangal Ltd V . SPIP & 3 ors . ); FHC /
ABJ / CR / 1360 / 2018 ( Cyril Chima Agbele V . FGN & 2
ors . ); FHC / ABJ / CR / 862 / 2019 (FRN vs Dr Goddy Nnadi &
10 ors ); FHC / ABJ / CR / 896 / 2019 ( FRN V . Mrs Aisha
Fanya Usman & 10 ors ); FHC / ABJ / CR / 928 / 2019 (FRN
Senator Albert Bassey Akpan & 6 ors );
“ FHC / ABJ / CR / 407 / 2019 ; FHC / ABJ / L / 820 / 2018 ( FRN vs
George Nkanta & 4 ors earlier taken over by the AGF
for prosecution ); FHC / ABJ / L / 1727 / 2018 (FRN vs Senator
Peter Nwaoboshi ) and FHC / ABJ / CR / 93 / 2019 ( FRN vs
Amaju Pinnick & four others ) . ” The letter added, “ This reminder letter is to further
inform you that the office of the Honourable Attorney –
General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is yet
to receive any response till date . ”
The Solicitor – General further explained that none of the
listed cases were recovered from the SPIP office or
traceable to any court , hence the request for
information on them . He noted that prompt response
to the demand would enable the AGF to see the cases
“ to their logical conclusion. ”
But the former head of the SPIP legal unit , in his
response dated August 9 , 2020 , said he was not in a
position to supply the information being sought by the
ministry.
He explained that he had earlier handed over all the
cases he was handling for the SPIP on receiving Apata ’ s
demand letter dated August 15 , 2019 , noting that he
did not handle some of the cases listed in his (Apata )
most recent letter .
Ukpong stated , “ I believe I did not handle some of the
listed cases in your letter and it is difficult to ascertain
such now with respect to records available to me now . ”
Security operatives broke into my office , cart away files –
Ukpong
He explained that he was informed that security
operatives broke into his office and carted away the
files , including his personal files .
He said , “ I was informed by the security personnel at
the panel ’ s office that men from your office entered
my office in my absence and carried away all the case
files , computer and other documents , including
personal files and documents kept in my office for
safekeeping.
“ I had earlier requested in writing for the release of
my personal documents and property carted away in
the process but I have yet to receive any response. ”
The ex – SPIP prosecutor added that some of the missing
case files might have been “ farmed out to external
solicitors who were yet to brief me on them . ”
“ I was not in a position and I did not farm out any of
these cases to any external solicitor to handle for the
panel . Therefore, I am not in a position to supply some
of the requested information or attach meaning to the
listed suit numbers , ” Ukpong noted .
The lawyer , however , mentioned the case involving
Senator Akpan, which he said was before the Chief
Judge of the Federal High Court, adding that it was
being handled by the AGF ’ s office .
On Uzodimma ’ s case , the ex – SPIP prosecutor stated
that “ it appears the matter was farmed out in my
opinion , ” adding that the same goes for the suit
involving Access Bank .
Speaking to our correspondent on the phone on
Saturday , the lawyer said the AGF had refused to
release his personal effects, including credentials that
were taken away over a year ago.
“ They broke into my office and carted away all the
files , and my personal files , books , and credentials are
missing ; that ’ s the power of the government , there is
nothing I can do about it , ” he said .
Files ’ disappearance calls for thorough probe – Sagay
But commenting on the alleged missing files , the
Chairman , Presidential Advisory Committee Against
Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay , said the situation called for
a thorough investigation , adding that the Federal
Government should set up a panel to quiz the ministry
of justice and the former SPIP officials staff to ascertain
the whereabouts of the files .
He said , “ This deserves to have a fact – finding panel set
up because it is a major issue in the anti – corruption
war; that files opened with regards to prominent
people who are suspected of huge corruption
disappeared . It is important that government sets up a
fact – finding panel and to invite the two parties
( ministry of justice and ex – SPIP officials) together so
that whoever has the files can be traced . ”
Malami not aware of missing files – Aide
The Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations to
the AGF , Dr Umar Gwandu , said his principal had no
prior knowledge of the high- profile cases listed by the
Solicitor – General in his letter, stressing that Malami
equally had no idea of the missing case files .

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