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Pandora Papers: CLO Knocks Premium Times, Says Peter Obi is a Shining Light


Pandora papers and Premium Times: Obi remains a shining light -CLO


The public media space has been awash since 4th October 2021 when Premium Times released its report as part of the global International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)-led Pandora Papers project.


There has been global applause over the painstaking effort in the project where about 600 journalists from 150 news organisations around the world reportedly pored through a trove of 11.9 million confidential files, contextualising information, tracking down sources and analysing public records and other documents as it involved off shore deals involving prominent businessmen and world figures.


However, the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) Southeast Zone wish to state that the Nigerian aspect of the consortium report most especially that of

Taiwo-Hassan Adebayo on Mr Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State and PDP Vice Presidential Candidate during the 2019 general elections published in Premium Times Newspaper on the 4th day of October, 2021 reeks of inducement and “operation indict him by all means”.


The Premium Times report on Obi can be described as a “hatchet job taken too far to justify the paymasters bill”. In the report, ethics of journalism and professional reportage was sacrificially thrown to the dogs.


The writer of the piece Taiwo-Hassan Adebayo could not even hide his vested interest and personal biases against Obi in the story when he started in the first line thus “Peter Obi, the ex-governor of Anambra State in Southeastern Nigeria, is widely regarded in Nigeria as an advocate of good governance, openness, and transparency.


He was to show his preconceived mission to indict at all cost when he went straight in the fifth paragraph of the story and stated thus: “But beyond the facade of priggish speeches and appearances, an investigation by PREMIUM TIMES has now shown that Mr Obi is not entirely transparent in his affairs as he likes Nigerians to believe”.


The writer in the whole body of the story was out to do a negative profiling job on Mr Obi and his family members. Not done yet, he became the investigator, the prosecutor and the jury too dishing out offences in numbers one to four and even handed out punishments for speculative crimes which he said Obi had committed.


In journalism tenets, any investigative story worth its salt or onions should not be self opinionated and should also be free of any personal biases of the author. Such reports are never expected to be judgemental or sensationalized. The referenced piece on Obi by Adebayo failed such integrity test as it reeks of all the earlier mentioned unethical and unprofessional ingredients.


While the CLO Southeast Zone does not hold brief for Obi or act as its spokesman, it is important to state that all public office holders both serving and former are subject to public scrutiny as their actions while in office or after leaving office can be called to question in one way or the other.


The likes of Obi has been a shining light having comported himself as the face of a good public servant in Nigeria since leaving office as Governor over seven years ago. He remains so until proven otherwise.


While many of his contemporaries and fellow governors both before and during his time since the return of democracy in Nigeria, 1999 have had series of corruption cases hanging on their necks, Obi has lived above board without any known indictment or prosecution from the Nigerian or Western countries Metropolitan security or anti graft agencies.


The Premium Times report would have been taken serious if their investigation revealed anywhere the ex governor laundered money , wired financial deals of any sort from the coffers/treasury of the Anambra State government when he held sway as the Governor.


The Premium Times report confirmed that Next International linked to Obi was incorporated as a UK company in 1996 ten years before Obi became Governor in 2006. The investigative prowess of Premium Times and its team having beamed its spotlight on Obi would have been proved beyond doubt if they were able to unearth any form of sleazy financial deals involving Obi and monies traced to public funds into the company or any other which the public didn’t know before now.


Section 36 (12) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended made it clear that no person shall be held liable for an offence except such offence is expressly defined by a written law and a sentence specifically prescribed for it.


The report while desperately searching for offence against Obi could not differentiate between tax avoidance and tax evasion, the latter being an offence and the former, not an offence under the law.


Section 6 (b) of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act of Nigeria never prohibited a public officer from holding an interest in a company. The provision rather prevents the said public officer not to personally “engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade”

Legal experts also confirmed that appointment of nominee directors by companies are legitimate and well known corporate law practice recognised by the Companies and Allied Matters while there is no provision in Nigerian legislation as at date criminalizing the use of nominee directors or setting up offshore vehicles for whatever purpose.


In Nigeria’s statute book known as the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended are several relevant sections detailing on the power of the media and duty of the State to fight corruption and ensure that citizens entrusted with government power lives above board.

Section 15{5} of the constitution stated that “The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power” while Section 22 gives the Press which included radio, television and other agencies of the mass media the freedom at all times uphold the fundamental objectives of State Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.


While the essence of media and its investigative aspect cannot be overemphasized in any decent society, the resort to act as hireling or become a willing tool for the actualization of the cliché Pull Him Down Syndrome sounds the death knell for the reputation of any media outlet. Such temptation should be resisted by media entrepreneurs at all costs.

Nigeria needs more of the Obis in the public space while the media should rather go for and actually expose those who have held the country down for so long and arrested its growth and development through corruption and unbridled avaricious stealing of public wealth.

Signed for the CLO Southeast Zone

Comrade Aloysius Attah, Zonal Chair, Barrister Pedro Azuogu, Treasurer, Southeast Zone, Phone no: 08035090548

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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