A former Senate President, David Mark, has backtracked on his promise to appear before the Federal Government’s Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property over an allegation that he owns some offshore companies.
It was learnt that instead of appearing before the panel, Mark filed a suit to challenge the legality of the panel.
A source familiar with the Mark’s case told our correspondent that “the former Senate President was invited for questioning by the SPIPRPP in respect of 20 companies in British Virgin Island and other tax havens.”
It was learnt that this followed an investigation conducted by the national intelligence agency in collaboration with the SPIPRPP.
Our correspondent gathered that the investigation followed a revelation in Panama Papers allegedly linking Mark and other top Nigerians and political leaders around the world to some companies and other assets held offshore.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the Panama Papers containing details of financial and lawyer-client information for hundreds of thousands of offshore entities in May 2016.
Mark was originally invited to appear before the panel for questioning on December 11, 2018.
The ex-Senate President, through his lawyer, Mr Ken Ikonne, wrote a letter dated December 11, 2018 to the panel indicating his readiness to appear for the planned probe, but pleaded for it to be postponed till December 21, 2018.
He pleaded for the postponement on health, among other grounds.
But in what appeared to be a U-turn from the December 21 date promise, Ikonne told our correspondent on Sunday that there was no basis for him to appear before the panel because his client had filed a suit to challenge the legality of the panel.
He said, “We did not appear before the tribunal because it is illegal. We have filed a suit to challenge the legality of the panel.”
When asked for an update on the investigation on Sunday, the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property, Mr Okoi Obono-Obla, confirmed that the former Senate President did not show up for questioning but instead filed a suit to challenge the investigation.
“He took us to court again. I was served with papers on January 7,” Obono-Obla said.