The Abia State Judicial Panel of inquiry on the recovery of government properties and funds, headed by Justice Ikwuoma Duruoha-Igwe (Rtd), has granted bail to former Chief of Staff to the immediate past Governor of the state, Prof ACB Agbazuere in the sum of five hundred thousand naira and one surety in like sum.
Recall that the former Chief of Staff to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who was invited by the panel to clarify issues on government vehicles in his possession, was earlier issued a bench warrant by the panel on January 10th 2024.
Announcing the decision of the panel on the case file; JPREC/270/2023, Justice Duruoha emphasized that the surety to be produced by Agbazuere is to swear an affidavit of means and must be a Permanent Secretary of Grade Level 17 or a serving Member in the State House of Assembly from the Constituency of the witness.
The panel adjourned hearing on the matter till 2nd February 2024.
Justice Duruoha who entertained hearing on the inquiry of the panel, subpoena to Sir Don Ubani vacated the bench warrant issued to the former Deputy Chief of Staff following consideration from application of the counsel to the panel and responses of the counsel representing the witness.
Justice Duruoha expressed the need for a more in-depth investigation into whether there was an Executive Council decision by the past administration bequeathing the Toyota Fortuna Jeep to him, as claimed.
The panel noted that despite Sir Ubani’s testimony, the lack of concrete evidence prompted the call for additional witnesses to shed light on the crucial matter.
“I have considered the application of the learned counsel to the panel and the response of the counsel representing the witness, Sir Don Ubani and i am of the view that there is need to further investigate if there was an Exco decision bequeathing the Toyota Fortuna jeep on the witness.
“Apart from the recent visit by the witness, there is nothing before us to hold on to. We need to scout for this evidence through other witnesses that are yet to appear before us but peradventure, the witness lays his hands on this all important Exco decision, he should file same for the panel’s use to enable us come up with a sound recommendation at the end of our hearing.
“In the interim, Sir Don Ubani is to enter into an undertaken to preserve the Toyota Fortuna black Jeep with Chassis no; MHFDS8FS9L0104225 with Engine no 2TRA691618 and to produce same whenever required to do so.
“The bench warrant issued on the witness on 10th January 2024 is hereby vacated,” Justice Duruoha said.
Justice Duruoha-Igwe while reiterating that the panel is on a fact finding mission said that they are not out to witch hunt any group or individual adding that their decisions reflects the commitment to a fair and thorough investigation which allows for the collection of pertinent evidence before reaching any final conclusions.
Earlier in their separate submissions, Prof ACB Agbazuere and Sir Don Ubani said contrary to the impression created that the panel was out to witch hunt past political office holders, that the panel is made up of men and women of proven integrity who are on a state assignment to get the records straight and assured that they would be available whenever they are called upon.
The panel acknowledged the recovery of a Toyota Hummer bus from the immediate past provost of the Abia State College of Education Technical, Arochukwu, Dr. Philip Ntoh and returned same to the college.
The immediate past Head of Service, Sir Onyii Wamah also appeared before the panel on account of a Toyota Prado Jeep said to have been bequeathed to him by the immediate past government of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu
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