The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property has arrested two whistleblowers for allegedly misleading it with false information.
The alleged false information was provided against Mr Emmanuel Mbaka, foremost real estate developer and Managing Director of Platinum Mortgage Bank.
The male suspects, Prince Jeff Ove, 37, from Bayelsa, and Mohammed Sanusi, 39, from Kogi, were presented to newsmen by the spokesperson of the panel, Lucie-Ann Laha, in Abuja on Friday.
Laha alleged that the suspects told the panel under oath that the victim, who was present at the news briefing, had looted and stashed huge sums of money in his Abuja home.
She said the bogus tip-off prompted operatives of the panel to raid Mbaka’s home, an effort that ended in futility as nothing of such was found.
“We received information from the suspects that the victim was a politician who looted a large amount of money and stashed it in his house.
“We have found out that the person is not a politician. I don’t think an association with politicians automatically makes you a politician.
“We were told there was a large cache of money in his house. The panel has carried out a thorough investigation, turned the house inside out and we found nothing,’’ she said.
Laha, who apologised to Mbaka on behalf of the panel, said the suspects would be prosecuted to show that the Federal Government’s Whistleblower Policy was not an instrument of character assassination.
“The policy is meant to encourage Nigerians to assist anti-corruption agencies with credible information to apprehend those that have looted the commonwealth of Nigerians.
“Anyone who brings information to the panel and any other anti-corruption agency is assured of confidentiality and certain rewards.
“Conversely, when Nigerians try to circumvent this policy by giving false information in a bid to malign other Nigerians, the law says we should reprimand them, which is what we are doing here today,’’ she said.
Speaking to newsmen, the two suspects said they were in turn misled by informants, and apologised to Mbaka amid pleading with the panel for forgiveness.
Ove said, “I was in Bayelsa when I got information that there was a fund that a politician kept in Abuja here.
“We came and someone introduced me to a friend, who also corroborated the information that has turned out to be false, and that was why I approached the panel to report.
“Once again, I apologise to the man, I am very sorry, I have learnt my lessons and I promise this will never happen again.’’
On his part, Sanusi said sometime in March 2017, one Aliyu told him that he knew a house in Abuja where stolen money was being kept.
He said he never bothered to take the information to anti-corruption agencies because Aliyu had said he wasn’t too sure of its authenticity.
“But the brother of this very man (Ove) standing beside me here came all the way from Bayelsa and said he had a special power to enter the house and search it.
“He said all I needed to do was to show him the house, and he made me understand that with the power he acquired from India he would be able to know whether the money was there or not.
“When we got there, he told me that the spirit had told him that there was money in the house and that we should give him a little time to work on it,’’ he said.
Sanusi said he never knew that Ove and his unidentified brother had already approached the panel to inform it about the money.