By Martins Odeh
Former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Peter Godsday Orubebe, was today found guilty by the Code of Conduct Tribunal over false assets declaration.
Tribunal chairman, Mr Danladi Umar, held that “Plot 2075’’ located in Asokoro District of the FCT which Orubebe failed to declare stood forfeited.
“The tribunal has taken time to review all the evidence turned in by both the prosecution and defendant.
“The prosecution had initiated this suit because of allegation of failure of the defendant to honour the Code Conduct Bureau (CCB) invitation to clarify some grey areas in his asset declarations.
“The prosecution did say in its address that Orubebe purposely failed to honour the CCB invitation in other to hide the property,’’ he said.
Umar, however, said that the defendant claimed he had surrendered the title to a third party in a bid to offset a N10 million debt.
He said the defendant had listed Mr Akinwumi Ajibola as the third party to whom he sold the property, adding that the defendant’s alleged creditor was also a defendant witness.
“After studying the merit of the case, the tribunal found that the ex-minister had benefited a total of N47 million as salaries during his four years tenure as minister.
“It, therefore, stands to reason that a minister who collects about one million naira per month will be pushed to sell the property at that strategic part of city to offset an acclaimed N10 million rent.
“Worrisome also is that the title document domiciled with the Federal Capital Territory Land Administration still bears the name of the defendant, six years after the acclaimed transaction was carried out,’’ he said.
Umar said it was the responsibility of the prosecution to prove the matter beyond reason doubt, adding that it had been sufficiently shown that Orubebe violated Section 15 of the CCB Act.
“In the light of this, the tribunal finds Godsdey Orubebe guilty as charged and he is to forfeit plot 2075, located in the Asokoro District of the FCT to the Federal Government,’’ he held.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN|) reports that Orubebe was on Nov.9, 2015 arraigned in the tribunal on charges bordering on bribery and false declaration of assets.
The charge was later amended leaving out the allegation that he solicited bribe from Dr Jonathan Alota to award contract to his company, Chemtronics Nigeria.
The earlier charge had accused Orubebe of allegedly accepting a payment of N20 million from Alota as gratification.
Orubebe was a former Minister of the Niger Delta under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
Reacting to the judgment, Mr Selekeiweoi Larry (SAN), counsel to Orubebe, said the pronouncement was a “travesty of justice’’, adding that it would be challenged.
“How can court orders my client to forfeit a title that does belong to a third party. The piece of land has been sold,’’ he said.