Still angered by the All Progressives Congress-led federal government’s labelling of it as a den of looters of the national treasury, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Saturday asked President Muhammadu Buhari to make public the accounts of his presidential campaigns in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.
Doing this, the party said in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, would be in tandem with the president’s claim to integrity and incorruptibility.
The party’s statement is part of a torrent of reactions from its leaders who were on Friday accused of looting the nation’s treasury by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
While the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has threatened N1.5billon suit except the allegation was withdrawn by Monday, the former National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, called his profiling as a looter, scandalous and lawless, saying it was an unfair comment on matter subsisting in court.
The PDP, which had in an earlier statement on Friday described a list of alleged looters released by Mohammed as “hollow and laughable,” said Buhari and the APC would have no moral standing to fight corruption unless they came clean and public with the accounts, including the donors, of their presidential campaigns.
Alleging that the campaign funds were proceeds of corruption from fraudulent government officials and businessmen, the opposition party wondered how the president, who declared that he had no resources to run a presidential campaign in 2015, was able to garner billions of naira to prosecute his election campaign.
It argued that Buhari ought to have known, particularly as a leader, that the billions of naira deployed in his campaigns were proceeds of corrupt activities of known APC governors and leaders.
The PDP said it was particularly interested in the fund allegedly provided by a South-south governor for the 2011 presidential election as well as how the cost of litigation was paid by his campaign organisation.
It said the federal government could not list names of alleged looters and attempt to shy away from the fact that the president and his party were direct beneficiaries of fund allegedly looted by APC governors.
Contending that Buhari and APC leaders had huge confessions to make on how they raked in state allegedly stolen resources to prosecute elections of 2015, the PDP declared: “If the Federal Government and the APC are serious about fighting corruption and not just out to persecute PDP members, they should have begun with the probe into the source of the billions of naira used for President Buhari’s 2015 presidential campaigns, particularly in the face of allegations that the fund was looted from treasuries of various APC states.
“Can President Buhari in all honesty claim ignorance of reports in the open media that a South-south governor looted several billion from his state accounts and diverted the sums into Buhari’s 2015 campaigns?
“Can the Presidency and the APC inform Nigerians what steps the Federal Government has taken to investigate this allegation, which has been in public domain and to clarify their roles as beneficiaries of the alleged looted funds?”
Metuh: Allegation is Scandalous, Lawless
The party’s former spokesman, Metuh, in his own reaction on Saturday, decried Lai’s enlisting of his name in the hall of looters, saying it was an abuse of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which guaranteed his right to a fair trial in court.
Already standing trial for alleged illegal receipt of N400million from the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), Metuh said the minister’s comment was part of a premeditated plan by the federal government to force the judiciary to convict him in the yet to be decided corruption trial, adding that it amounted to a conviction before trial.
Accusing the government of executive rascality and lawlessness, he said: “By this publication (Lai’s statement), the federal government has breached our constitution by seeking to burden me with two criminal trials on the same charge, one before Justice Okon Abang and the other before the media,” he said.
Metuh explained that he had been put on trial for receiving N400m million from the Office of the National Security Adviser to carry out duties assigned to him as the then National Publicity Secretary of the PDP by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He stated that although the major crux of the prosecution’s argument was that he ought to have known that the money was a part of an alleged and yet to be proven unlawful activity of Dasuki, nothing tangible had been established against him in court.
Drilling holes into the federal government’s case, he said:”It is of interest to note that the prosecution has not alleged any men’s rea or collusion on my part other than the suggestion that I ‘ought to have known’ of the alleged unlawful activity. Also, the alleged illegality of the funds has neither been established in law nor in fact.
“I have NEVER held a government office and/or position and could not, therefore, have had any access to government funds.
“In view of the weakness of the case against me, the APC-led Federal Government resorted to all kinds of dirty tactics to dehumanise and intimidate me. They have done everything humanly possible to ensure complete persecution.”
Metuh concluded: “By going to the media to name me a looter (without cross-checking the definition and dictionary meaning of the word) the federal government has not only given a body language but has issued a direct intimidation and threat to the judiciary to get a compulsory conviction.
“In view of this unprecedented executive rascality and lawlessness, I have asked my lawyers to review the implications of this latest attack by the government and take appropriate steps for redress.”
Secondus Threatens Libel Suit
Also reacting to his listing, Secondus said Mohammed’s statement was libellous and gave the minister 48 hours to withdraw it or face litigation.
A statement by his Special Assistant (Media), Mr. Ike Abonyi, said Secondus, through his lawyer, Chief Emeka Etiaba (SAN), in a letter dated March 31, 2018, to the minister, demanded retraction, the public apology and payment of N1.5billion as damages.
According to the lawyer, the said publication had damaged the image of Secondus as he had been “humiliated, castigated and vilified by many as a result of the falsehood published by the minister.”
Etiaba asked Mohammad to note that if he failed to meet the demands within 48 hours, Secondus would immediately proceed to court to ventilate his right under the law and shall further seek the protection of the court against the minister.
Emulate Mantu, Confess Your Sins, urges APC
Meanwhile, APC has urged PDP to follow the example of one its leaders and former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, and confess to its sins against the country instead of indulging in name calling.
In a statement on Saturday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the party said it had noted the apology offered by the PDP but asked it to go a step further and confess to its sins before restitution could be considered.
APC said: “Instead of taking this path to redemption, PDP has engaged in fruitless “you too” accusations and name-calling. This is further evidence that PDP is not ready for repentance and only offered the apology with the hope that Nigerians will grant them amnesty and a short-cut back to power.
“However, now that Senator Mantu has belled the cat, by confessing to how he has helped the PDP to rig elections in the past, we hope that PDP will follow the bold example of the former Senator and confess to their other sins against Nigeria.”