By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The Chairman, Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Mr Okoi Obono-Obla has called for a special protection for those who have been given the difficult task of fighting corruption in the country.
Obono-Obla, who has been accused of possessing a fake secondary school certificate by an ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives, pointed out that the amount of hostility, persecution and witch hunting those saddled with fighting corruption in the country are being subjected to is unprecedented.
The Chairman, Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property spoke yesterday while fielding questions from Journalists shortly after attending a workshop on “Promoting the Principle of Good for the Advancement of Democracy”, organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, HEDA in collaboration with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Crimes in Abuja yesterday.
He reasoned that if those doing the work of fighting corruption in the country are not protected, nobody will want to take the job.
He specifically described the job as very risky.
In his words, “The people who are entrusted with fighting corruption, investigating corruption should also be protected. Otherwise, if they are allowed to be open to attacks from those who are angry that they are investigated, then nobody will want to take the work again .
“What am I saying is protection, it is simple English. People, who are working in agencies that are fighting corruption, should be given so measure of protection by government, by law.
“For instance, some EFCC investigators were attacked. I am also saying that I have been subjected to various degrees of attacks for what I am doing. I have not wronged anybody with the work I am doing.
“If you do not protect those who are doing the job, nobody will want to take the job. The work is risky. People take it personal.
“You have reprisal from those you are investigating. Just like what I have been subjected to. People are angry with me. I have not done anything. I have not taken anybody’s wife; just because of the work I have been given to do.
“We have been entrusted to investigate all categories of people – even private persons. So you cannot say that we are targeting one set of persons. It is not true. Why must we pick on anybody? We cannot pick on you if you don’t have any issue. If there are issues that have been brought to our attention, we will look into it.
“The amount of persecution, the amount of witch hunting, the degree of witch hunting, the intensity that some of us have been subjected to, just because we have been given work to do and we are doing it courageously, leaves much to be desired.
“If it continues, if this trend continues towards those who have been given work to fight corruption, to help our country. Nobody will want to take this job again.
“I have been a victim by a section of the House of Representatives. They have focused on me personally. For the past four months, I have been under intense media trial. They are the accusers. They are the prosecutors. They are the judge. What have I done? Just because I have been given work to do, to help this country.
“Some people in the National Assembly have taken it personal. The issue is not a personal fight. I did not appoint myself. I was appointed by Mr. President; and given work to do. I have to do it.
“They have to allow me to do the work and stop distracting me and stop fighting me. Stop focusing on my person. I have nothing to do with the fight against corruption.
“I advocated for protection of the fighters against corruption. They are talking about whistle blower. Whistle blower should be protected. Judges who are handling corruption cases should be protected..
He further denied the claim in some sections that his committee is primarily focusing on the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and few others.