The Special Presidential Investigation Panel on the Recovery of Public Property disbanded by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), about a year ago, has been revived by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), Saturday PUNCH has learnt.
Our correspondent also gathered that Malami has appointed the head of a civil society organisation, the Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative, Dennis Aghanya, as the “Lead Consultant”, who solely administers the affairs of the panel from an office allocated to him at the Federal Ministry of Justice’s headquarters in Abuja.
The panel originally comprised five members with Mr Okoi Obono-Obla as the Chairman when it was constituted in August 2017.
Aghanya, who now runs the panel as a “unit” of the Federal Ministry of Justice, was the one who sent a petition to the Code of Code of Conduct Bureau in January 2019 for the probe and prosecution of the immediate-past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
His petition to the CCB sparked the probe of the former CJN, who was subsequently charged with five counts at the Code of Conduct of Tribunal for failing to declare his assets in breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
Malami, as the AGF, appointed Umar Aliyu (SAN), now deceased, who prosecuted Onnoghen at the CCT on behalf of the CBB and the Federal Government.
In April 2010, the CCT convicted Onnoghen, ordered his removal from office and barred him from holding public office for at least 10 years.
No reason was given for the appointment of Aghanya by Malami as the sole administrator of the SPIP.
The SPIP, constituted in August 2017, was dissolved by Buhari on September 18, 2019.
The dissolution, announced in a statement by presidential spokesperson, Mr Femi Adesina, on September 17, 2019, followed the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission’s probe into allegations of records falsification and financial impropriety levelled against its then chairman, Mr Okoi Obono-Obla.
With the dissolution of the panel, which within the two years of being constituted drew various controversies concerning the legality of its existence and mode of operations, Buhari directed its cases be taken over by the AGF office.