The Code of Conduct Tribunal said on Monday that the Federal Government had not dropped the charge it preferred against a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godsday Orubebe, as being speculated in some sections of the media.
The Head, Press and Public Relations of the CCT, Mr. Ibraheem Al-hassan, said in a statement that the case was ongoing, contrary to reports in some newspapers and online platforms indicating that the charge against the former minister had been dropped.
Al-hassan explained that the Federal Government had only at the last proceedings on March 8, substituted the former charges with a new one.
The CCT’s statement read, “Our attention at the Code of Conduct Tribunal has been drawn to recent publications from some sections of mass media, indicating that the Federal Government has withdrawn charges against former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Godsday Peter Orubebe.
“The tribunal is compelled to refute the said publications, specifically contained in ThisDay and Leadership newspapers and online media, dated March 21, 2016.
“The purported withdrawal is said to be based on the case being fundamentally defective.
“Pursuant to the above, the CCT advises that, to the best of our knowledge and based on available records as of the time of this report, the information is misleading, distortive, as such it should be ignored.
“The case of Mr. Godsday Peter Orubebe before the CCT in charge N0. CCT/ABJ/02/15 is still ongoing.
“What transpired in court in the last session held on March 8, 2016 was a substitution of the initial charge with a newly filed charge by the prosecution, of which leave was sought from and granted by the tribunal. Thus, there is no withdrawal of the case by the prosecution.”
The Federal Government had on March 8 amended the charges it preferred against Orubebe before the CCT in October last year.
The amendment saw the number of the original counts filed against Orubebe reduced from four to one.
In the former charges, the first two counts bordered on false assets declaration, while the other two counts related to bribery.
Only one count bordering of false assets declaration was retained in the new charge.
In the former charges, Orubebe was accused of accepting N50m bribe from one Pastor Jonathan Alota, on September 19, 2012, and additional N20m from the same person sometimes in 2013 for the award of contract in favour of his (Alota’s) company, Chemtronics Nigeria Limited.
He was also accused of having failed to declare Plot 2722 Kyamu and Plot 2059 in Asokoro District, both in Abuja, on assumption of office and on leaving.
The prosecution has however removed Plot 2722 Kyamu District in the new charge.
Lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Mohammed Diri, told the Danladi Umar-led CCT on Tuesday that the amended charge was dated March 7, 2016, but filed on March 8.
He said the amended charge was filed in line with provisions of Section 214 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
Diri said it was served in the defence some moments before the proceedings began last Tuesday.
The lead defence counsel, Mr. Selekowei Larry (SAN), did not oppose the amendment.
The tribunal subsequently accepted the new charge and struck out the former ones.
The tribunal chairman also directed the fresh charge to be read to the defendant.
Orubebe pleaded not guilty to the one count.
The prosecution alleged in the new charge that Orubebe failed to declare his Plot 2057, Asokoro District, Abuja, when he assumed office as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs on September 26, 2007 and on leaving office on June 29, 2011.
The offence was said to have flouted the provisions of Section 15 of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and punishable under section 23(2) of the same Act.