An online newspaper Premium Times has accused a former Vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Peter Obi of trying to mislead Nigerians.
Recall that the Pandora Papers which was created by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) involving over 600 journalists and over 100 media organisations (including Premium Times) had accused Peter Obi of setting up companies as fronts for his business activities, and how he changed the name of the company to PMGG.
The former governor is said to have hidden these companies and information about them from the public and the Nigerian government.
But in a statement obtained by Naija News on Thursday, the former governor Anambra State denied breaching any Nigerian law by engaging in secret businesses set up in tax havens.
He said nowhere in the article was he accused of any form of corruption, whether in the form of diversion of public funds or in any other manner during and after his stewardship as the governor of Anambra State.
Obi added that the publication did not state that he had been engaged in unlawful business ventures at any time whatsoever.
In a swift response, Premium Times accused the former bank executive of breaching Nigerian laws.
Describing Peter Obi’s dealings as opaque and illegal, the newspaper said the former government official tried to confuse the public.
On how the former vice-presidential candidate broke Nigeria law, Premium Times said: “One, Mr Obi continued to hold his position as a director of his UK company, NEXT International (UK) Limited, 14 months after becoming the governor of Anambra State in contravention of Section Six of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
“Two, Mr Obi set up complicated layers of secrecy to hide his offshore holdings, which he admitted to failing to declare to the Code of Conduct Bureau, apparently hoping the public and the authorities would never get to know, thereby breaching Section 11, Part of the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
“Three, Mr Obi as a governor was also operating a foreign account in breach of the constitution and the public service code of conduct rules.”
The newspaper stated that the former Anambra governor tried to switch the lane in his response by raising what it did not allege in the report.
Premium Times noted that their report did not accuse him of diverting public funds “as we did not uncover such evidence for such conclusion during our reporting.”
The paper added that when confronted with its findings, Peter Obi did not deny failure to comply with the law with regards to asset declaration, operation of a foreign account, and directing a private company as a governor.
According to the media organisation, the former bank executive claimed he was ignorant of the law.
“I don’t declare what is owned with others. If my family owns something I won’t declare it. I didn’t declare anything I jointly owed with anyone,” Obi was quoted to have said.
The paper noted that this is contrary to the position of the Constitution, which specifies the declaration of all assets, whether jointly or partly owned.