Former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe yesterday said he regretted serving Nigeria in a ministerial capacity because of the criminal charges slammed on him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, in Abuja by the federal government for alleged failure to declare his assets in 2011.
Led in evidence by his counsel, Mr. Selekowei Larry (SAN), Orubebe who testified in his own defence told the tribunal that the charges against him were unfounded and uncalled for, because the property for which he was arraigned did not belong to him.
In his emotion laden remark while giving evidence, Orubebe claimed that he served Nigeria diligently and with energy at his disposal for six years and four months, and that the pay back for his service was the criminal charges brought against him unjustly.
“Let me make this point now here before this tribunal that the only regret I have for serving this country is this trial. It is very unfortunate; it is regrettable; it is shameful. I am sad and my heart is heavy because I am put on trial on mere empty land in the bush here in Abuja officially given to me by the same government I served.
“Nigerians may not know this and I wish to say it out that during the peak of the militancy in the Niger Delta, I slept with the militants in the creek for two weeks negotiating with them on how to adopt peaceful approach for their demands, and in the end, my efforts brought peace to this country and our oil companies have their peace and Nigeria was better for it in the area of security and economy because of my efforts, only to be compensated with this trial that has destabilised me.
“I still love this country but I have a pain in my neck. I have respect for government and its policies. If the Code of Conduct Bureau had invited me for clarifications on my asset forms, I would have honoured them because it is a simple thing to do and because my conscience is clear.”
The former minister had in his evidence claimed that he did not declare Plot 2057 in Asokoro District of Abuja because as at the time he was leaving government in 2011, he had sold off the land to pay his house rent debt of two years.
Orubebe told the tribunal that the land in dispute was allocated to him by government but that he sold it to his landlord, Barrister Akinwumi Ajibola for N10million to offset the two-year house rent debt owed the landlord.
He further said that it would have been criminal for him to have claimed ownership of the property he had sold off and the Certificate of Occupancy handed over to the buyer before he left office.
He asked the tribunal to dismiss the charge against him because he had not breached any law as far as the property in dispute was concerned.
Another witness of the minister, Mr. Akinwumi Ajibola confirmed that Orubebe was his tenant at Drive 2, House 3, Ministers Quarters, Mabushi, Abuja, and that the tenant was indebted to him to the tune of N10 million for two-year house rent.
The witness, who claimed to be a real estate developer and chief executive of Didention Properties Limited, informed the tribunal that Orubebe parted with the empty land allocated to him in lieu of the debt and that the Certificate of Occupancy was handed over to him at the end of the transaction.
Under cross-examination by the government’s lawyer, Mr. Mohammed Diri, the witness claimed that he did not register the Power of Attorney and the Deed of Assignment because what he bought was an empty land in the bush that could not be registered at the time.
Meanwhile, the tribunal chairman, Danladi Umar adjourned judgment in the matter till June 30.
The federal government had put Orubebe on trial on one-count charge of failure to declare in his assets form at the end of his service, the land with Plot No. 2057 allocated to him by government.

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