. Aso Rock cabal intensifies witchhunt of Obazee
. Continues to starve Special Investigator’s team of operational funds contrary to President Tinubu’s directives
Details emerged at the weekend about how President Bola Tinubu’s Chief of Staff, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila and the new cabal at Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, allegedly attempted to corner the $30billion looted funds and the 66 landed choice property traced by the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee to Tunde Sabiu, a former Personal Assistant to ex-President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was also learnt that the Presidency cabal has intensified its fight against the complete government take-over of the four erring banks seized by the Central Bank of Nigeria early this month by allegedly arranging for their cronies to surreptitiously buy over the affected banks.
The former owners of the seized banks, it was further learnt, are currently negotiating with some highly placed Presidency officials on how to retrieve the banks from the CBN through the backdoor.
CBN had on January 10 announced the sack of the managements of Union Bank, Titan Trust Bank, Polaris and Keystone banks and dissolved their Boards in line with the directives of President Bola Tinubu following a report of the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee, on the erring banks.
The Aso Rock cabal, it was learnt, had on a number of occasions allegedly concocted lies against the Special Investigator with the aim of convincing President Tinubu to halt his investigations and eventually sack him. The cabal has also allegedly been shielding many of the suspects that should have been interrogated by the office of the Special Investigator.
Competent Aso Rock sources said if not for the determination, resilience, courage and the unwavering devotion to duty exhibited by the Special Investigator, he and his team would have been unable to retrieve the four banks from their sacked managements and dissolved Boards, as top government and Presidency officials were busy hobnobbing and conniving with them and other alleged looters of the nation’s commonwealth.
Several efforts were also allegedly made by the cabal to prevail on the Special Investigator to compromise his investigations and reports to the President.
The cabal also allegedly instructed the Special Investigator to report to them first before briefing and presenting his reports to the President.
It was gathered that trouble, however, started when the Special Investigator refused to be dictated to by the Aso Rock cabal on how to go about his job and who to investigate.
The Special Investigator, it was learnt, refused to take instructions from members of the cabal, insisting that it’s against the presidential directives and mandate given to him by President Tinubu who appointed him.
As a result of the Special Investigator’s refusal to dance to the tune of the cabal, it was learnt, they have ensured that his team of investigators is continuously starved of the necessary funds to enable them to carry out their assignments, contrary to repeated instructions from President Tinubu that their operations should be adequately funded.
Meanwhile, competent sources told First News that Sabiu through his lawyer, had at a recent meeting with the Special Investigator agreed to refund $30billion and also forfeit to the Federal Government 30 per cent of the 66 choice houses and other landed property allegedly traced to him.
The Special Investigator, it was learnt, had planned to brief President Tinubu on his return from his trip to France with a view to securing his approval to commence the implementation of the agreement reached with Sabiu.
It was however learnt that when Gbajabiamila got wind of Sabiu’s deal with the Special Investigator, he allegedly trailed the former presidential aide to the venue of the recent book launch on former President Muhammadu Buhari by his chief spokesperson, Femi Adesina in Abuja.
President Bola Tinubu also attended the book launch. But the President’s Chief of Staff, Gbajabiamila, who was supposed to stay behind at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in the absence of his principal, was said to have also headed to the venue of the book launch where he sought audience with Sabiu, who was also in attendance at the event.
Gbajabiamila was said to have there and then fixed an appointment with Sabiu for 11pm that night.
At the meeting, Sabiu was said to have disclosed to Gbajabiamila his plan to refund the $30billion loot and also forfeit some landed choice property to the Federal Government, having reached an agreement with the Special Investigator.
It was further learnt that Gbajabiamila, during the meeting, instructed Sabiu to henceforth relate with him on the matter instead of the Special Investigator.
Gbajabiamila allegedly also told Sabiu that he had already made recommendations to Tinubu to sack the Special Investigator, adding that the President had transfered to him the mandate to recover looted funds as well as the landed choice property.
Sabiu and his lawyer, who was in company with him at the meeting with Gbajabiamila were said to have been shocked by Gbajabiamila’s utterances and instructions.
Sabiu, through his lawyer, later got across to the Special Investigator to inform him that his client had been instructed by Gbajabiamila not to relate with his office anymore on the recovery of the looted funds and forfeiture of his landed choice property to the Federal Government, as the President had directed him (Gbajabiamila) to take over the recovery of the looted funds and the forfeiture of the property.
Gbajabiamila then allegedly gave Sabiu and his lawyer a private bank account in which he should deposit the $30billion.
The President’s Chief of Staff was said to have also told Sabiu that only 20 per cent of the refunded $30billion loot will be paid into FG’s coffers while the remaining 80 per cent will be shared amongst top government officials, including three serving Ministers and some highly placed Presidency officials, whose list was shown to him.
Sabiu and his lawyer were then said to have called the Special Investigator to inform him that they could no longer continue any discussion with him on the matter following Gbajabiamila’s instructions that they should no longer relate with his office.
The Special Investigator is said to be currently preparing a report on the development, and which he plans to hand over to President Tinubu on arrival from his trip to France.
Efforts by our correspondent to speak with Gbajabiamila on the various allegations proved abortive, as he could not be reached on phone.
Meanwhile, a coalition of 259 anti-corruption, civil society and human rights groups, Coalition for Transparency and Economic Reforms (COTER), has however called on President Tinubu not to allow anyone, no matter how highly placed, to rubbish the credibility already secured for his administration in the international community through the invaluable works of the Special Investigator, Jim Obazee.
COTER also urged President Tinubu to warn Gbajabiamila to steer clear of what the Special Investigator has been doing successfully since his appointment, which involves handling the very delicate and dangerous national assignment of investigating and recovery all the funds looted by powerful individuals from the CBN and other Government agencies.
COTER’s President, Dr Peter Chima Chukwu and General Secretary, Mallam Auta Ibrahim Koko, stated these in a statement in reaction to Gbajabiamila’s alleged intervention in the functions of the Special Investigator.
According to them, “Obazee has successfully been laundering the image of this country and the President Bola Tinubu-led administration internationally through his bold and courageous work as CBN Special Investigator. So, Gbajabiamila cannot now come and attempt to usurp that office or the Special Investigator’s role after Obazee has taken all the risks to achieve so much in recovering funds from the Federal Government’s coffers and the vaults of the CBN.
“Gbajabiamila should face his own job, which he’s yet to excell and discharge effectively, and stop being a meddlesome interloper. The job Mr President gave him, he has not done well in the first place. Who gave Gbajabiamila the mandate to recover looted funds? Certainly, President Tinubu didn’t do that. We believe this Government should not allow itself to be forced or coerced by some unpatriotic and corrupt elements in government to thread the ignoble path of the previous administration. At least, there should be some decency in government this time round under President Tinubu. Gbajabiamila should be stopped from meddling in the work of the Special Investigator.
“But if he refuses to be called to order, COTER shall not hesitate to mobilise all the civil society groups in Nigeria against him.”
“We commend the Federal Government for fishing Obazee out for the job and we urge the President to adequately appreciate him with a special National honour/award.
“The Special Investigator should also be considered for higher national assignments because we have the confidence in him, that he’ll always deliver. Nigeria should not make the mistake of allowing other countries, international agencies and organisations who are watching events in Nigeria now with keen interest to snatch Obazee away from us. Nigeria seriously needs Obazee at this moment of our journey as a nation.”