FG drags serving senator to CCT over alleged false asset declaration
The lawmaker representing Delta-North Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, has been dragged to the Code of Conduct Tribunal by the Federal Government on a three count count charge of false declaration of assets.
The charges were filed by the Office of the Department of Public Prosecutions, Federal Ministry of Justice.
The senator was recently referred to the DPPF’s office for prosecution by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property led by Okoi Obono-Obla.
A copy of the charges shows that Nwaoboshi is to be tried for allegedly making false assets declaration in his Form CCB1 submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau by failing to declare three bank accounts in Sterling Bank (Nigeria) Ltd .
This is just as a Federal High Court, Abuja in a suit FHC/ABJ/CR/88/2018 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria versus Senator Albert Bassey Akpan presided over by Justice J.T Tsoho, ruled that the Special Presidential Investigation Panel For Recovery of Public Property is competent to initiate criminal prosecution against Senator Albert Akpan Bassey or anybody it has investigated.
The Court also held that the Prosecutor of the Panel, Dr Celsus Ukpong is competent to sign or initiate criminal prosecution and doesn’t require the consent of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to do so.
The Principal State Counsel at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Labaran Magaji, who signed the charges, alleged Nwaoboshi’s action was contrary to section 15(1) and (2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and punishable under section 23(2) of the same Act.
The charges read in part: “That you, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, adult, male, Nigerian citizen and a serving Senator representing Delta North constituency within the jurisdiction of this Tribunal did make a false declaration in your asset declaration Form CCB 1 No: SEN001098 in that you refused to declare Account No: 0008600331 maintained by you with Sterling Bank (Nigeria) Ltd which is in operation since about 2015 and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (1) and (2) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 015 LFN 2004 and punishable under Section 23 (2) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 015 LFN 2004.
Accompanying the charges filed against the Delta-North senator was a document titled, ‘an application to commence trial.’’
The summary of the prosecution’s case also attached to the charges, read, “It is the prosecution’s case that the defendant, a serving senator was investigated and found to have falsely declared his assets in his assets declaration Form CCB1 No. SEN001098.
“The prosecution, in this case, shall rely on the exhibits and testimonies of witnesses to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.”
Ruling on the case that involved Senator Bassey, the Court also said that the Panel doesn’t require having the consent of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria before it can initiate criminal prosecution against anybody.
Senator Albert Bassey Akpan was arraigned before the Federal High Court by the Panel for refusal to declare his assets contrary to Section 3 (a) of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act, 2004. However, he objected to the competence of the Panel to file charges against him.
With the ruling, the coast has been cleared for the Senator Akpan to face the charges against him.
However, Senator Akpan’s counsel, Solomon Unoh (SAN) has filed a Notice of Appeal against the ruling.
Reacting to the development, the Chairman of the Panel, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, said that the ruling is great and that it has an impetus to the fight against corruption and strengthening the hand of the panel.