A Lagos-based law firm, Lawflex, has asked the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) to prosecute the Labour Party presidential candidate in the 25 February election, Peter Obi, for failing to declare the assets he stashed in tax havens while serving as a state governor.
In the letter written on Thursday, signed by Olukoya Ogungbeje and received by the CBB the same day, the firm said its purpose is to bring to the CCB’s notice an investigation on the issue done.
Investigation provides details of Mr Obi’s investments in some notorious tax havens which he did not disclose in his mandatory CCB filings before and after leaving office as governor of Anambra State.
The businesses were set up and operated overseas, including in notorious tax and secrecy havens in ways that breach Nigerian laws.
Other prominent Nigerians involved in similar offshore dealings include the former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah; the acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko; former governor of Osun, Gboyega Oyetola and his Kebbi State counterpart, Atiku Bagudu. They have all denied any wrongdoing.
The law firm said that Mr Obi flouted the code of conduct for Nigerian public officials and urged the CCB to “act appropriately” by arraigning the former governor before the “Code of Conduct Tribunal for contravention of the Code of Conduct for Nigerian Public Officers as spelt out in the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, (As Amended).”
Mr Peter Obi failed to declare his offshore holdings and their associated assets. As a governor, he also continued to operate and maintain foreign accounts including with Lloyds in the UK.
The former governor admitted that he did not declare these companies and the funds and properties they hold in his asset declaration filings with the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Nigerian government agency that deals with the issues of corruption, conflict of interest, and abuse of office by public servants.
He said he was unaware that the law expected him to declare assets or companies he jointly owns with his family members or anyone else.
After becoming the governor, he continued to be a director of Next International (UK) Limited for 14 months.
Mr Ogungbeje urged the CCB to immediately investigate the violation and invite Mr Obi for questioning.
The lawyer warned that if the CCB refuses to take constitutional action within 30 days, his firm would seek a “judicial review by way of an Order of Mandamus in a court of competent jurisdiction in a bid to compel performance of public duty.”
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