The attention of the Office of the Deputy President of the Senate has been drawn to a misleading report by the Leadership Newspaper that Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s has been barred from traveling out of the country on the request of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on the Recovery of Public Property.
For purposes of clarification and emphasis, the Office wishes to restate that Ekweremadu is not in court with the Panel or any other government agency over any corruption case. He was rather sued by the SPIP on the grounds that he, in the Panel’s words, allegedly “neglected to declare” his assets “in the manner prescribed by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property”.
Ekweremadu’s position is that the Constitution demands every public officer to declare his or her assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau every four years, a provision he had since fulfilled, hence his refusal to fill fresh asset declaration forms forwarded to him by the Panel contrary to the Constitution.
It is also his position that the Public Property Special Provisions Act, CAP R4 LFN, 2004, otherwise known as Decree No 3, 1984, which the Panel relied on to charge public officials to court has become obsolete and power to investigate non-asset declaration is now vested in the Code of Conduct Bureau by the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Therefore, only the Code of Conduct Bureau can receive asset declaration forms from public officers.
The Court of Appeal recently gave a judicial imprimatur to this when it ruled in a similar matter that the SPIP has no prosecutorial powers whatsoever, hence the Panel is acting ultravires.
It is further recalled that the Federal High Court Abuja at the November 8, 2018 hearing on the matter declined the Panel’s request to order the Senator’s arrest since the Senator is already challenging the Panel’s legality.
So, whereas the excesses and smear tactics of the SPIP is not in doubt, the report is considered false and misleading, especially since our interaction with those concerned indicated that the only medium that listed Ekweremdu and was subsequently copied by some online platforms, confirmed that the reporter was neither given nor saw any list that contains Ekweremadu’s name.