The war of words between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the ‘looters list’ released on Friday by the federal government raged on yesterday with the PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, giving Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed a 48 hour ultimatum to withdraw the allegation against him.
Secondus is also demanding from the minister N1.5billion as damages.
The immediate past national publicity secretary of the PDP, Mr. Olisa Metuh, whose name also features on the list alleged a plan by the government to jail him at all cost.
He claimed to have been “reliably informed that the Federal Government has ordered a conviction at all cost to ensure that the PDP is tainted before the elections.”
The PDP queried President Muhammadu Buhari’s moral rectitude to fight corruption.
The APC, in a dig at the PDP, asked the leadership of the opposition party to take a cue from one of its top member, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu by publicly confessing their sins against Nigerians, seek their forgiveness, and turn a new leaf.
Secondus, in a letter by his counsel, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN) to Mohammed demanded that the allegation that he collected N200miliion from the office of the National Security Adviser be withdrawn within 48 hours.
He called the allegation libellous and threatened that failure to withdraw it would lead to litigation.
The PDP chair also demanded a public apology from the Minister.
Secondus’ media aide, Ike Abonyi, quoting from the letter with reference No. EESE&C/1/31/03/18 yesterday said Mohammed’s publication has “damaged the image of Prince Secondus as he has been “humiliated, castigated and vilified by many as a result of the falsehood published by the Minister.”
He warned that Secondus “shall within 72 hours from today, proceed to a court of competent jurisdiction to ventilate our client’s right under the law and shall further seek the protection of the court against you” should the minister fail to withdraw the allegation.
The PDP national chairman had, in his first reaction to the allegation on Friday, challenged the minister to get ready to establish his allegations in court.
He said that the Minister was out to damage his reputation and distract him from serving his party but that he has failed woefully.
His spokesman, Abonyi said:”For the purposes of some gullible public Prince Secondus never collected any money from the NSA under any guise.
“It’s on record that on April 6, 2016, a Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice James Tsoho, awarded Secondus N10 million damages against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for illegal detention over the same matter. The court had declared Secondus’ arrest and detention illegal.”
Metuh alleges media trial
Metuh, in a separate reaction, accused the Information and Culture Minister of subjecting him to media trial.
He accused the Federal Government of breaching the 1999 constitution by subjecting him to two criminal charges before the court and the media.
Metuh, who is currently standing trial for allegedly collecting N400 million from a former National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki in 2015, described the case against him as contrived.
Giving a detailed narration of the case against him and his ongoing trial by the Federal Government, Metuh said, “Since my arrest on the 5th day of January 2016 and subsequent arraignment, I have refrained from publicly discussing my persecution and travails by the government because as a lawyer, trained in the finest traditions of the Bar, I know that it is wrong to discuss a matter that is subjudice.
“However the present action of the government leaves me with no option than to defend my name and integrity. I have therefore decided to avail the public of the true state of the contrived case against me.
“The charge against me is that I received the sum of N400 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser to carry out duties assigned to me as the then National Publicity Secretary of the PDP by then President.
“The major crux of the prosecution argument is that I ought to have known that the money was a part of an alleged and yet to be proven unlawful activity of Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd), former NSA to President Jonathan.
“The charge was brought regardless of the fact that neither President Jonathan who gave me the assignment and directed the release of the funds nor Col Dasuki (rtd), who effected the release of the funds have ever been interrogated nor even interviewed in this regard.
“As a matter of fact, officers of the office of the National Security Adviser have testified in court that the payment made to me followed all due process usually observed in the establishment.
“It is of interest to note that the prosecution has not alleged any mens rea or collusion on my part other than the suggestion that I ‘ought to have known’ of an 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.”
He labelled the case against him as weak, and accused the Federal Government of employing dirty tactics to de-humanize and intimidate him.
Continuing, he said: “They have done everything humanly possible to ensure complete persecution starting from bringing me to court in handcuffs (and parading the capture of Nigeria’s most wanted) to media trials and constant interference with my case.
“I have been reliably informed that the Federal Government has ordered a conviction at all cost to ensure that the PDP is tainted before the elections. The government’s determination to achieve this objective is clearly highlighted by the refusal to allow me attend to my deteriorating health notwithstanding several expert medical opinions on the matter.
“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.
“It is now clear that the APC led government that thrives on impunity and intimidation of other arms of government will not allow justice to be done in my matter. It is incontrovertible that our country has descended into the worst form of draconian rule where the executive arm directly interferes and seeks to control and determine matters within the purview of the legislature and the judiciary.
“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
“In all, my faith is firm in God that this tyranny will not last forever and that no mortal is omnipotent in my matter.”
Why Buhari has no moral ground to fight corruption, by PDP
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan in his second reaction within 24 hours on the ‘looters list’ said President Muhammadu Buhari has no moral rectitude to fight corruption.
The President, who declared that he had no resources to run a presidential campaign in 2015, ought to have known, particularly as a leader, that the billions of naira deployed for his campaigns were proceeds of corrupt activities of known All Progressives Congress (APC) governors and leaders, he said.
The opposition party challenged the President to make public the sources of funds available to his campaign in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 race as well as the names of the donors.
He said: “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 billions 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 the public domain and to clarify their roles as beneficiaries of the alleged looted funds?
“If they are not complicit, why are they not demanding the truth in the matter and the possible refund of the fund for the good of the people?
“We challenge President Buhari to tell Nigerians what he has done regarding the leaked memo showing N9 trillion ($25billion dollars) corrupt oil contracts at the NNPC as well as the alleged stealing of N1.1 trillion worth of crude oil, all in a sector under his direct purview as minister of Petroleum.
“The Presidency should tell Nigerians what has been done to recover the stolen N18 billion Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) intervention fund and the N10 billion National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) fund alleged to have been stolen from the Treasury Single Account (TSA) by APC officials and Presidency cabal.
“Furthermore, the Buhari Presidency must immediately explain why it has been providing cover for the cabinet minister reported to have bought a property worth N280 million in Abuja from corrupt enrichment.
“How can a President who enjoys the company of perjurers, looters and is never aware of the activities of corrupt people around him, fight the menace of corruption?
Emulate Mantu, confess your sins against Nigerians, APC tells PDP
The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday asked the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to emulate former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu by publicly confessing their sins against Nigerians, seek their forgiveness , and turn a new leaf.
The APC said it is only on this condition that restitution could be considered for the PDP.
The ruling party was reacting to Mantu’s confession on Channels Television on Friday that he helped his party win elections in the past.
Mantu served as a Senator between 1999 and 2007.
He represented Plateau Central and was elected on the platform of the PDP.
His ‘confession’ came on the heels of the apology by the PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus who said the party made mistakes when it was in power between 1999 and 2015.
Reacting to the Mantu interview yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi said recent activities of the PDP have shown clearly that the apology offered by Secondus was a mere lip service.
He said the PDP is not ready to repent and turn a new leaf.
Abdullahi said: “Apparently burdened by guilty conscience, the PDP National Chairman had last week apologized to the nation for the years of misrule that his party has brought to the country. “The APC noted this apology but asked the PDP to go a step further and confess to their sins before restitution could be considered.
“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.”
Mantu in the television interview had said: “I don’t have to go and change election (results) but when you provide money, you give money to INEC boys that if they see any chance they should favour you, you provide money to the security (personnel).
“I tell you it’s not necessarily when I am contesting election but when my party sponsors a candidate, I will like that candidate to win election.”
Asked why he thought Secundus’ apology was in order, Mantu said: “there is the need for Nigerian politicians to apologize for all the sins we have committed against the people.
“That is because we have short changed the people.”
He recalled, how in the PDP, names of candidates who won elections were deleted and replaced with other names.
“Winners names were crossed out and replaced with names of those who did not win. It is bad because we imposed those who did not win on the people,” he said.
“It is true that we (PDP) ruled with impunity.”
He asked other PDP members to also become “born again, remorseful and repentant.”