The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has rejected charges filed against him by the Federal Government for his alleged refusal and negligence to declare his assets.
In a statement by his Special Adviser (Media), Uche Anichukwu, hours after news of the charges broke, the Deputy President of the Senate said the charges were laughable and malicious.
He said, “Let me re-affirm to Nigerians and my supporters that I have no assets declaration case to answer. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requires public office holders to declare their assets every four years, a requirement which I fulfilled.”
The Federal Government had filed charges against the Deputy Senate President and the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District, Bassey Akpan, on Wednesday.
Both senators are being charged separately before the Federal High Court in Abuja for alleged offences bordering on their refusal and negligence to declare their assets to the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the recovery of public property (SPIP).
Ekweremadu, however, accused the Chairman of the SPIP, Mr. Ofem Obono-Obla, of attempting to smear his name in midst of the current political activities.
He explained that contrary to the allegations against him, the Panel requested and obtained copies of his assets declaration form from the Code of Conduct Bureau “where everything is stated in black and white”.
“For emphasis, all my assets were fully and comprehensively declared to the Code of Conduct Bureau,” he said.
“What is at issue here is that the SPIP had forwarded fresh assets declaration forms to me to fill contrary to the position of the 1999 Constitution, a demand I refused to oblige because it is clearly unconstitutional. It is this refusal to disobey the Constitution that I am now being charged for.”
According to him, the charges against him are unconstitutional.
“The Office of the AGF should not allow itself to be used in filing malevolent and unconstitutional charges that destroy our democracy and make mockery of our judicial system,” he said.
The Deputy Senate President added, “My position is that the Public Property Special Provisions Act, CAP R4 LFN, 2004, otherwise known as Decree No 3, 1984, which Obono-Obla has relied on to charge public officials to court had become obsolete and power to investigate non-asset declaration vested in the Code of Conduct Bureau by the 1999 Constitution. Only the Code of Conduct Bureau can receive asset declaration forms from public officers.
“It is obvious that this is part of the desperate and panic measures to cripple the opposition ahead of the 2019 general elections. Every opposition candidate and leader should, therefore, be ready for such smear campaigns and onslaughts, but rest assured, however, that they would ultimately triumph where their hands are clean.
“I insist my hands are clean. Anybody, who knows any undeclared assets of mine, should feel free to avail the public of such information”.
Senator Ekweremadu called on Nigerians and the international community to disregard the charges which he described as the “latest campaign of calumny and witch-hunt”.