CCT fixes judgment in Orubebe’s assets trial for July 

By Wahab Akanji, Abuja

The Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) has postponed the judgment earlier scheduled for Thursday in the false asset declaration case against former Niger-Delta Minister, Godsday Orubebe. 

The tribunal has rescheduled the judge for July 19, adding that the postponement was informed by the absence of the tribunal Chairman, Danladi Umar, who is said to have travelled out of Abuja. 

The tribunal had on June 2 this year, chosen June 30 for judgment Delta Minister, Godsday Orubebe. 

The tribunal chose the date on Thursday after Orubebe concluded his defence having called two witnesses, including himself.

Orubebe was earlier in November 8, 2015 arraigned on a four-count charge of false asset declaration and bribery by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. 

The prosecution, on March 8 this year, announced an amendment to the charge, reducing the counts to one. He pleaded not guilty to the amended charge of false asset declaration on March 8 when he was re-arraigned. 

“That you, Godsday Peter Orubebe on or about June 29, 2011 while being a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in charge of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable tribunal, did make a false declaration of assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau when you failed to declare Plot 2057, Asokoro District, Abuja on assumption of office on September 26, 2007 and on leaving office (at the end of your tenure) on June 29, 2011 and you hereby commit an offence contrary to section 15 of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act Cap 15 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under section 23(2) of the same Act.”

While testifying as the second defence witness on Thursday, Orubebe explained that he failed to declare the plot of land in 2011 because he had sold it to his landlord before he made the last asset declaration while leaving office. 

Led in evidence by his lawyer, Selekowei Larry (SAN), Orubebe, who said he sold the barren plot of land at N10million, explained that he also did not declare it when he assumed office in 2007 because it was not allocated to him then. 

He said the land was allocated to him by the Federal Government, as a Minister, through the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister. He said never visited the plot if land because it was in an undeveloped part of Abuja, and that he sold to pay his rents, at N5m per annum, for two years (2009-2010 & 2010-2011). 

He expressed regret that he was subjected to trial over an “empty plot of land in a bush,” which he said, was allocated to him by the government in which he served. 

When asked by Larry when he did not declare the plot of land when he assumed office in 2007, Orubebe said: “As at 26 September 2007 when I first declared my assets, I never had a property named plot 2057 Asokoro District, Abuja. So, I could not have declared it as I was coming in as a minister. 

“On 29 of June 2011, when I was temporarily dis-engaged from the Federal Executive Council, because the FEC was dissolved, before I was reappointed, I never also had a property known as Plot 2057 Asokoro District, Abuja. So, I could not have declared a property that was not mine. 

“As at when I was dis-engaging, I could not declared the land, because it was no longer mine. But I declared other property, including land that were given to me by the government that I served,” he said. 

Explaining how he sold the land, Orubebe said: “On 29 June 2011, Plot 2057, ordinary empty land in a bush, that was given to me by the Federal Government that I served, via an offer letter from the Minister of the FCT. I decided to give it out to my landlord, Barrister Akinwumi Ajibola, the Managing Direction of Givention Properties Limited, to settle for my two years house rent. 

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