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Asset recovery: Panel withdraws Uwajeh’s appointment

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Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property has withdrawn the appointment of Mr. Victor Uwajeh.

Uwajeh, a UK-based private investigator, was appointed by the panel as a Consultant to trace and recover undeclared assets and proceeds of fraud as part of the ongoing fight against corruption.

This was disclosed yesterday by the Chairman of the panel, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla.

Speaking on telephone with newsmen,  Obono-Obla said that the panel withdrew the appointment in order to investigate allegations of fraud and forgery leveled against him.

Obla said explained that he appointed Uwajeh work with him  in good faith because he didn’t know he had any such issues.

“I appointed him as one of my assistant to assist me do the work government has given me in good faith, so at the time of giving him the appointment , if he had any issues, we were not aware of.

“We are not everywhere so we cannot know everything that is happening except we are privy to such information.

“Now that allegations have been made, we are going to ascertain the veracity of these allegations and if correct, we will withdraw the appointment.

“He is based in the UK so we thought that it will be an advantage to have someone there to help us but we will look into it and review the appointment,” he said.

Some lawyers under the aegis, Lawyers Against Corruption (LAC) had questioned the appointment of Uwajeh shortly after it was announced.

The lawyers wondered why a man who had a four-count criminal charge pending against him in court should be appointed by the panel. “Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja has declared Uwajeh, who has been evading court summons as a fugitive of the law.

“The judge further berated the Nigeria Police for protecting a fugitive of the law, after he was told by the prosecution counsel, Aminu Alilu that he was under police protection. “Before the court,  Uwajeh is facing a four-count charge bordering on forgery, documents falsification, fraud and procuring forged documents.

“The court has since granted the request made by the ‎Federal Government to serve criminal summons on Uwajeh through substituted means, by pasting at his premises.

“Justice Tsoho granted the application after counsel to the government,  Alilu informed the court that Uwajeh had on several times  evaded service.” Another lawyer, Anayo Adibe, also faulted the said appointment just as he questioned Uwajeh’s credibility. Adibe had in a statement issued in Abuja, said that Uwajeh’s character as at present remained in doubt to hold public office until he cleared his name in the charge against him in court.”

It presents a great obstacle to the intellect to fathom the reasons for and ramifications of Uwajeh’s proposed appointment to a Federal Government office as a consultant on asset recovery.

“He needs to presents himself bona fide to clear his name, and establish that his character remains in good stead. “This is public business, and we as honest members of the Nigerian public retain the right to scrutinise those who are mandated to act on our collective behalf,” he said.

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