- Deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, has described charges against him by the federal government as laughable and malicious
- The government accused Ekweremadu of refusing to declare his assets to the SPIP
- Ekweremadu said he has no assets declaration case to answer as all his assets were fully and comprehensively declared to the Code of Conduct Bureau
News broke out on Wednesday, October 10, that the deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, has been charged to court by the federal government for allegedly refusing to declare his assets to the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP).
The charge was instituted against Ekweremadu before Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Reacting to the report, Ekweremadu accused the chairman of the SPIP, Ofem Obono-Obla, of smearing his name in the midst of the current political activities.
In a statement sent to Legit.ng by his spokesman, Uche Anichukwu, Ekweremadu described the suit filed against him by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation on behalf of the SPIP over his refusal to declare assets to the panel as laughable and malicious.
His words: “Let me re-affirm to Nigerians and my supporters that I have no assets declaration case to answer. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requires pubic office holders to declare their assets every four years, a requirement which I fulfilled. The panel requested and obtained copies of my assets declaration form from the Code of Conduct Bureau where everything is stated in black and white.
“For emphasis, all my assets were fully and comprehensively declared to the Code of Conduct Bureau.
“What is at issue here is that the SPIP had forwarded fresh assets declaration forms to me to fill contrary to the position of the 1999 Constitution, a demand I refused to oblige because it is clearly unconstitutional. It is this refusal to disobey the constitution that I am now being charged for.
“I am aware that the chairman of that panel wrote the same letter to some serving honourable judges of the Federal High Court, who also declined to fill them.
“I am also aware that the affected judges petitioned the minister of justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Mallam Abubakar Malami, who immediately withdrew the provocative letters and fresh asset declaration forms with apologies.
“I am further aware that the office of the AGF had also intervened in a similar case involving the Obla panel at the Federal High Court, Lagos and I believe all these culminated in Obono-Obla’s suspension in November 2017 before his recall.
“It is, therefore, left to Nigerians to see the politics of the so-called charges in my case. The office of the AGF should not allow itself to be used in filing malevolent and unconstitutional charges that destroy our democracy and make mockery of our judicial system.
“I expect the Attorney-General to channel his energy to prosecuting Obono-Obla panel over his established case of forgery of his Senior School Certificate result instead of this politically-motivated prosecution and smear campaign.”
The Enugu-born senator said the latest court case is part of desperate and panic measures to cripple the opposition ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“I insist my hands are clean. Anybody, who knows any undeclared assets of mine, should feel free to avail the public of such information.
“Nigerians and the international community should, therefore, disregard this latest campaign of calumny and witch-hunt,” he concluded.
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Meanwhile, a civil society group on Wednesday, October 3, asked Obono-Obla to resign his appointment within 30 days or face mass action. The Initiative for Integrity and Good Leadership said it will begin a mass action in 30 days if Obono-Obla does not resign.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its national president, Muhammadu Aliyu, the group noted that the continuous presence of the presidential aide in the cabinet would erode the integrity of the administration known for probity and war against corruption.
The statement followed an indictment of Obono-Obla by a report of the House of Representatives for result forgery and misuse of public funds.
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