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Obaji, ex-education minister, under probe - ICPC

LANRE ADEWOLE, Abuja - 29.06.2006

THE sacked Education Minister, Mrs. Chinwe Obaji, is being probed by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) over alleged corrupt handling of public funds, the Nigerian Tribune can authoritatively reveal.

A highly placed source at the commission disclosed that two petitions detailing alleged corrupt practices by the ex-minister were received by the commission. The source also revealed that the former governor of Kogi State, Abubakar Audu, had not been cleared by the commission over alleged corrupt practices, adding that his prosecution might begin soon.

The petitions against Audu, a two-time governor of Kogi State, had reportedly been receiving attention from the commission’s investigators even before he left office, with a source saying that the commission was trying to put certain things in place before the commencement of his trial.

Obaji, according to the top ICPC’s source, was alleged in the two petitions to have acquired high-profile property in her state within the 14 months she spent as minister. She was also accused of buying cars as well as mismanaging millions of naira while in office.

It will be recalled that Obaji became the education minister following the sack of her immediate predecessor in-office, Professor Fabian Osuji, over alleged bribery scandal. President Olusegun Obasanjo had earlier criticised Obaji alongside three other ministers over their performance, and she was eventually dropped as a minister in the last cabinet reshuffle about a fortnight ago.

In another development, the Nigeria Police and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), formerly known as NEPA, have been declared the most corrupt public institutions by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

Briefing journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, the commission’s spokesperson, Mike Sowe, pointed out that apart from local government councils, the two public institutions led others in the corruption index, as revealed by a recent survey, and confirmed by the corruption cases before the commission.

Rating PHCN slightly above the police on the corruption index, Sowe, however, said that pencilling in the Managing Director of the PHCN, Mr. Joseph Makoju, as the first to appear at the ICPC Chairman’s Guest Forum had nothing to do with the corruption rating.

The commission’s Consultant on Media and Events, Mr. Folu Olamiti, had earlier informed journalists that starting from July 18, 2006, chief executives and other heads of public institutions and governmental agencies would be made to face the press over corruption issue in their organisation on a programme to be known as the ICPC Chairman’s Guest Forum.

The programme, according to him, would be held monthly.



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