John Alechenu, Olusola Fabiyi and Eniola Akinkuotu
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, has berated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for its alleged unconcealed bias in execution of the anti-corruption war in the country.
Secondus said that the recent arrest and harassment of contractors handling projects in only PDP states had clearly exposed the anti graft agency as doing the bidding of the ruling party ahead of the 2019 polls.
The PDP chairman alleged in a statement in Abuja on Thursday, that the EFCC had deployed its operatives to intimidate and harass contractors handling various projects in some PDP states with the aim of frustrating their project goals which he said had visibly placed them far ahead of their colleagues in the All Progressives Congress states.
He said in a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Mr. Ike Abonyi, that the commission had remained beclouded in its alleged bias and had refused to heed advice from well-meaning Nigerians and international watchers including the recent one from the British High Commissioner to Nigeria Mr. Paul Arkwright, asking it not to take sides with any political party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The High Commissioner, while on a visit to the EFCC in Abuja on Wednesday, had said that both “INEC and EFCC should be there to preserve the integrity of the political process, including taking investigations without prejudice on one side or the other.”
Secondus, however, noted that the commission rather than listen to such advice, had instead made itself “a willing tool to assist the drowning APC ahead of the 2019 general elections.”
He added, “Rather than encourage states who are seriously involved in the delivery of democracy dividends to their people, the envious ruling APC has been conniving with the relevant agencies to be harassing contractors ostensibly to frustrate and slow them down in their development strides.
“Contractors in Taraba and Rivers states as well as other PDP states are being harassed by the EFCC operatives and are being arm-twisted to implicate the PDP leaders.
“Intelligence is available to the party that the ruling party and the Federal Government have resolved to ensure that the PDP states are permanently put on their toes so as not to get their bearing ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“It would be clear to the world and discerning minds that the PDP governors are doing fantastic jobs executing projects that touch the lives of their people unlike their APC counterparts
“In some states like Taraba where projects have been halted as a result of the EFCC meddlesomeness, the unemployment situation has worsened.”
Secondus also called on the international community to note the alleged growing impunity where he said anti-graft agencies now usurp the oversight functions of the state Houses of Assembly.
Secondus allegations lack substance, says EFCC
But the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said there was no truth in the PDP’s allegations.
Uwujaren asked the PDP chairman to mention the names of the contractors being arrested by the EFCC.
He said, “The allegation by Prince Uche Secondus of harassment and intimidation of contractors working for some PDP states by the EFCC is puerile and lacks substance. Who are the contractors being intimidated?
“That he failed to mention them is evidence that the so-called contractors do not exist. The EFCC is not in the business of harassing people and I don’t know any contractor that is being intimidated merely for doing contract in a PDP state.
“If you have not violated the law, the EFCC has no business with you. Unless they are haunted by their shadows, Secondus and his contractors in Taraba and Rivers states should sleep easy.”
PDP’s allegations, a repetition of old tales – APC
In its reaction, the APC described allegations by the PDP as a repetition of worn out tales.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH in Abuja, on Thursday.
He described as unfortunate the opposition party’s penchant for dwelling on making unsubstantiated allegations.
Abdullahi said, “Such allegations have become the stock in trade of the opposition party. It has not said anything new other than repeat old tales and make wild allegations which it cannot substantiate.”
MTN fine: PDP faults FG on N500m professional fee
But in spite of the dismissal of its national chairman’s allegations, the PDP on Thursday also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to come out clean on allegations of corruption and sharp practices that it said had pervaded the recovery of the N1.03tn fine imposed on MTN Nigeria.
The PDP said Buhari and his administration had a lot of questions to answer on how the fine was reduced to N330bn, particularly on the face of allegations that certain interests in the Presidential villa, said to be very close to the President allegedly took a bribe of N500m before the reduction.
A statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja on Thursday, said it was disgusting that while this allegation of bribery at the Villa had remained uncleared by the Presidency, President Buhari, on Wednesday, approved N500m from the same fund, under controversial claims of professional fees to unnamed persons for unspecified services.
Ologbondiyan said, “For a government that prides itself as fighting corruption, the nation had long expected Mr. President to clear the air on the sordid allegation of bribery in the Presidential Villa.
“Rather than progressing in that direction, President Buhari has continued to act as if the demand by Nigerians, to know the truth about the alleged bribery in the villa over the payment of MTN fine, does not matter.
“Furthermore, the PDP challenges President Buhari to come out clean on the basis for the purported N500m professional fee. What due process instruments did he rely upon? Who are these lawyers?
“Who contracted them; under what terms and what services did they render that was beyond what the Attorney General of the Federation and the team of lawyers at the Nigeria Communications Commission and the Ministry of Justice could handle?”
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