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Mr. Peter Obi, Labour Party (LP) Presidential Candidate

Pandora Papers: CLO defends Obi, says he remains a shining light

Mr. Peter Obi

The Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) has condemned the report linking the 2019 Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi, describing it as a hatchet job which failed the integrity test of media ethics.

According to CLO, the report was a “hatchet job taken too far to justify the pay masters bill,” as Obi has been a shining light, having comported himself as the face of a good public servant in Nigeria since leaving office as Governor over seven years ago.

The group insisted that Obi has lived above board without any known indictment or prosecution at home or abroad by security or anti-graft agencies.

Reacting to the report Saturday, through a statement issued by the Southeast Treasurer, Comrade Aloysius Attah, the group noted that in the report, ethics of journalism and professional reportage was sacrificially thrown to the dogs.

CLO further noted that the Taiwo-Hassan Adebayo’s report failed integrity test, saying that any investigative story worth its salt should not be self-opinionated and should also be free of any personal biases of the author, adding that the report should not have been judgemental or sensationalized.

The statement reads in part: “While many of his contemporaries and fellow governors both before and during his time since the return of democracy in Nigeria in 1999 have had series of corruption cases hanging on their necks, Obi has lived above board without any known indictment or prosecution from the Nigerian or Western countries Metropolitan security or anti-graft agencies.

“The Premium Times report would have been taken serious if their investigation revealed anywhere the ex-governor laundered money, wired financial deals of any sort from the coffers/treasury of the Anambra State government when he held sway as the Governor.

“The Premium Times report confirmed that Next International linked to Obi was incorporated as a UK company in 1996, 10 years before Obi became Governor in 2006.

“The investigative prowess of Premium Times and its team having beamed its spotlight on Obi, would have been proved beyond doubt if they were able to unearth any form of sleazy financial deals involving Obi and monies traced to public funds into the company or any other which the public didn’t know before now.

“Section 36 (12) of the  1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended  made it clear that no person shall  be held liable for an offence except such offence is expressly defined by a written law and a sentence specifically prescribed for it.

“The report while desperately searching for offence against Obi could not differentiate between tax avoidance and tax evasion, the latter being an offence and the former, not an offence under the law.

“Section 6 (b) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act of Nigeria never prohibited a public officer from holding an interest in a company.  The provision rather prevents the said public officer not to personally “engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade”

“Legal experts also confirmed that appointment of nominee-directors by companies are legitimate and well known corporate law practice recognised by the Companies and Allied Matters while there is no provision in Nigerian legislation as at date criminalizing the use of nominee-directors or setting up offshore vehicles for whatever purpose.

“In Nigeria’s statute book known as the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, are several relevant sections detailing on the power of the media and duty of the State to fight corruption and ensure that citizens entrusted with government power live above board.

“Section 15{5} of the constitution stated that ‘The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’ while Section 22 gives the Press which include radio, television and other agencies of the mass media the freedom to at all times uphold the fundamental objectives of State Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.

“While the essence of media and its investigative aspect cannot be overemphasized in any decent society, the resort to act as hireling or become a willing tool for the actualization of the cliché Pull Him Down Syndrome sounds the death knell for the reputation of any media outlet. Such temptation should be resisted by media entrepreneurs at all costs.”

CLO, while vouching for Obi, said Nigeria needs more of him in the public space and rather counselled the media to go after and actually expose those who have held the country down for so long and arrested its growth and development through  corruption and unbridled, avaricious stealing of public wealth.

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