The Special Presidential Investigative Panel, as established by the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, is chaired by Chief Okoi Obla Obono who is a special adviser to the President. On the 18th of April 2019, Chief Obono was invited to participate in our anti-corruption and transparency tweetmeet. It was an opportunity for citizens to be educated on the functions of the panel and shed more light on how the panel’s anti-corruption war can be supported.
At about 1pm on that very day, the event commenced. TapNitiative being the facilitator of the occasion firstly set out ground rules of the tweetmeet to ensure a smooth course. Questions were then posed to Chief Obono on his official twitter account (@chiefobla) following the hashtag #TrackNigeria.
Questions ranged from the roles and functions of the panel to details on the cases being investigated. On the scope of the panel, Chief explained that the panel is entrusted by the law to investigate public officers who have violated the code of conduct provisions of the Nigerian Constitution. They have abused their office to corruptly enrich themselves thereby contributing towards the economic adversity of the country. Interestingly, these investigations are not limited to just public officials but their spouses, siblings and children as well. Investigations are also not limited to just governmental offices. As referenced by Chief, S.2 (1) of the Recovery of Public Property provides for the investigation of private individuals or private bodies engaging in public activities including Non-governmental Organizations.
Engagement by the public in the tweetmeet were more focused on the works of the panel. A particular participant was interested in finding out how many people have been investigated so far and the outcomes ensued. In response to this, Chief Obono mentions that they have investigated more than 100 cases involving suspects like commercial banks, NEXIM bank and the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN). The Obasanjo government was also under scrutiny for the $7 billion given to banks in Nigeria as bailout since 2006 of which these banks have refused to return to the government coffers.
In relation to the process of investigation, Chief Obla Obono elaborates that once an asset is discovered to be corruptly or fraudulently acquired the suspect is invited for interrogation and given forms to fill for declaration of his assets to be completed within 30 days. Should he or she fail to do so, he/she shall be charged to court. Pending the term of the investigation the panel may go to court to obtain an order of interim forfeiture for those assets to be seized pending the conclusion of the investigation or prosecution.
Chief Obono was also put in the hot seat as controversial topic such as the alleged involvement of the Vice president were raised. Even though Chief declined making comments, he took the opportunity to enlighten the public on the difficulties of his job terming it “stressful and unenviable”. Yet he remains loyal and disciplined as it takes a certain level of courage and resolution to do the job he does.
With an engagement rate of 11.4% and about 124,000 organic impressions the event reached a substantial number of people and was a great success.
To follow the event and its success please do follow us on our twitter handle @TapNitiative and the hashtag #TrackNigeria.