Nigeria suspends graft recovery boss over ‘financial impropriety’

15 Aug 2019 / 20:04 H.

ABUJA: Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the head of a panel tasked with recovering looted state assets after the official was accused of financial misconduct and falsifying his education credentials, officials said.

Okoi Obono-Obla was suspended “with immediate effect” pending ongoing investigations by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the presidency said on Twitter late Wednesday.

A letter addressed to Obla from the government said the cases involved “alleged falsification of records and financial impropriety”.

Obla has faced a string of accusations including that he siphoned off recovered funds for his personal use and falsified his university entrance certificate.

He has denied the allegations, insisting he was being targeted by powerful interests from whom he had recovered assets worth millions of dollars (euros) in cash and assets, both at home and abroad.

Obla’s case is seen as a test for Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign at the start of his second term in office.

The 76-year-old former military ruler, who was re-elected in February, has made the fight against graft a major plank of his administration.

But during his first term he faced accusations he used the clampdown to go after critics and political opponents.

Nigeria faces a massive challenge in reclaiming funds lost to endemic corruption in the country.

When Buhari came to power in 2015 he spoke of “mind-boggling” stealing by the previous government, but the looting of funds has been going on for decades.

Billions of dollars were estimated to have been stolen by late dictator Sani Abacha during his iron-fisted rule from 1993 and 1998.

Channel Island Jersey in June said it had seized over US$267 million allegedly pilfered by Abacha from Nigerian state coffers. — AFP

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