Former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, has his day in court Thursday as the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) opened its case of false asset declaration against him. In the one charge count preferred against Orubebe by CCT, first prosecution witness, Samuel Madojemu, an official of the Code of Conduct Bureau, accused Orubebe of failing to declare his property at Plot 2057, Asokoro District, Abuja, as a Minister between 2007 and 2011.
He was accused of failing to declare a property he acquired while in office.
He was said to have committed an offence contrary to section 15 of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, Cap. 15 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014, and punishable under section 23(2) of the same Act. The prosecution told the tribunal that Federal Government has lined up three witnesses that will testify in the matter.
Federal Government had at the last adjourned day, dropped N70million bribery allegation it levelled against Orubebe in the initial four-count charge it lodged before the tribunal. It alleged in the charge that was struck-out, that Orubebe collected the bribe from one Pastor (Dr.) Jonathan Alota, the owner of a company, Chemtronics Nigeria Limited. The firm was said to have benefited from contracts that were awarded by the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, whilst Orubebe held sway as Minister.
Federal Government alleged that the defendant received bribe of N50m in 2012 and another N20m in 2013, an offence contrary to section 10 of the CCB & Tribunal Act, 2004, and punishable under Section 23 (2) of the same law. 57 1 1 0
Madojemu, who co-ordinates CCB’s “intelligence on observed breaches of the code and asset tracing investigation”, said Orubebe submitted five asset declaration forms to the Bureau between 2007 and 2011, the period he served as Minister.
Orubebe submitted the five forms to the CCB first as Minister of Special Duties under the administration of the late President Umar Yar’adua, and later as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs up till 2011 under the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
The witness said the Certificate of Occupancy for the property obtained from the land registry of the Federal Capital Territory Administration showed that it was issued to Orubebe on April 10, 2011 but that the former Minister failed to declare it as of the time of leaving office on May 29, 2011.
The witness, who was led in evidence by the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mohammed Diri, narrated how Orubebe refused to honour invitation by the Bureau during the investigation of an intelligence report obtained concerning him.
Madojemu said, “The defendant declared his assets to the bureau by virtue of his position as a public officer and as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I was instructed to invite him to the bureau for the purpose of obtaining his statement on the allegations and intelligence report that was being handled by the bureau concerning him.
“I invited him. He promised to respond by sending his legal team. He also promised that he might decide to come in person but he did not come.
“My Lord, the Bureau issued him with Form CCB 1 which is the bureau’s asset declaration form and he made his declaration between 2007 and 2011 – the period under investigation.
“The Code of Conduct Bureau issued the defendant the Form CCB 1 five times. For those five times, he made his asset declaration to the bureau.
“My Lord, after we received the form, we examined the form as part of our procedures to ascertain if there was over-declaration or under-declaration.
“We conducted intelligence assessment on the declaration made by the defendant. We discovered that there were some other plots or properties that were traced to the defendant, Godsday Orubebe.
“We conducted record examination by writing a letter to the Federal Capital Territory’s Department of Land Administration.
“My Lord, in their response, which was in writing, it was indicated that Plot 2057 Asokoro District for which the Certificate of Occupancy was issued on April 10, 2011, belonged to the defendant.
“We thereafter compared the information arising from response from the FCT land administration department with the information on asset declaration forms submitted to the bureau between 2007 and 2011 and discovered that Plot 2057 Asokoro District belonging to the defendant was not declared even as at May 29, 2011 when he left office.
“Apart from the letter from FCT land administration registry, we also received Certified True Copy of the Certificate of Occupancy in respect of Plot number 2057 issued to the defendant.
“We also received the CTC of the Right of Occupancy for that same Plot No 2057 issued to the defendant.
“Also received from the FCT land administration registry, was a letter of authority, given to one Engineer Rodney by the defendant to collect the Certificate of Occupancy and the Right of Occupancy from the FCT land registry. It was supported by the (international passport) page of the defendant.”
The trial was adjourned till April 14 for cross-examination of the witness.