A former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe says he regretted serving as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in view of the criminal charge filed against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, by the Federal Government for alleged failure to declare his assets in 2011.
While being led in evidence by the defence counsel, Mr. Selekowei Larry SAN, at the resumption of proceedings into his trial, Orubebe told the tribunal that the charges against him were unfounded and uncalled for because the property for which he was arraigned does not belong to him.
The former Minister, in giving evidence, claimed he served Nigeria diligently and with energy at his disposal for six years and four months and that the payback for his service was the criminal charges brought against him unjustly.
According to him, “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 and 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, negotiated 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 destabilized 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.”
Orubebe 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 debt of his house rent of two years.
He told the tribunal that government allocated the land in dispute to him but that he sold it to his landlord, Akinwumi Ajibola for N10 million to offset the two-year house rent debt owed him, stressing that it would have been criminal for him to claim ownership of the property he had sold off and the Certificate of Occupancy handed over to the buyer before he left office.
The former Minister then asked the Justice Danladi Umar-led CCT to throw out the charge against him because he had not breached any law as far as the property in dispute was concerned.