The federal government has released a list of some members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who allegedly looted the nation’streasury while the party was in power.
In response to allegations by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of monumental corruption under the Jonathan administration, the PDP had challenged the governing All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government to name the looters.
Rising up to the challenge, the minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammad, yesterday unveiled the list of alleged looters under PDP government during a press conference in Lagos.
In the few days, the APC and the PDP had been entangled in a media war, trading accusations and counter accusations against each other, with each party accusing the other of looting public funds.
The media tirade continued yesterday when the Information minister insisted that Nigeria was looted blind under PDP’s watch, and that the starting point in tendering an apology is for them to return the loot.
The list of looters includes the current PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus and former PDP national publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh.
Mohammed said the release of the list was a response to PDP’s public challenge for the government to unveil the names of looters it claimed looted the country dry for three years.
In the list, which contains six names, Secondus is accused of taking N200 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) on February 19, 2015.
Metuh is listed as being on trial for allegedly collecting N1.4 billion from the ONSA, while Chief Raymond Dokpesi is listed as being on trial for allegedly taking N2.1 billion from ONSA.
Others on the list are Dudafa Waripamo-Owei, a former aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, who is listed as being on trial forallegedly keeping over N830 million in accounts of four different companies, and the former president’s cousin, Robert Azibaola, who is facing trial following a Federal High Court ruling that he has a case to answer for allegedly collecting $40 million from the ONSA.
The last person on the list is a former PDP financial secretary who is alleged of taking N600 million from the ONSA on October 24, 2018.
Mohammed said the fact that most of them are in court and trying to cut a deal with the government is a clear indication that the PDP damaged Nigeria with corruption and cannot be trusted to return to power.
He stated: “The PDP has challenged us to name the looters under their watch. They said they did not loot the treasury. Well, I am sure theyknow that the treasury was looted dry under their watch. Yet they decided to grandstand. This shows the hollowness of their apology.
“They are in court and the records are available. Some of the people on this list are seeking to plea bargain, and that is a fact. We insist that Nigeria was looted blind under the watch of the PDP and that the starting point in tendering an apology is for them to return the loot.”
Mention Convicted Members – PDP
But in a swift reaction, the PDP yesterday dismissed the list of alleged looters published by the federal government as hollow and laughable, just as it challenged APC-led to come up with names of its members against whom the federal government had secured convictions.
The opposition party argued that the list of purported looters
is an extension of federal government’s media trial that amounts to a cheap blackmail, as none of those listed have been indicted or convicted by any court of competent jurisdiction or any panel of enquiry in the country.
PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said the list issued by the Minister of Information, only goes to show that the APC and the presidency have no prove of corruption against the PDP.
The party expressed surprise that in its frenzy and desperation, the federal government even included names of individuals who are not standing trial or under investigation for any act of corruption, as well as those who are not even PDP members.
The PDP statement made available to LEADERSHIP Weekend noted: “The Buhari-led Federal Government has manifested its frenzy by going after matters that are in court and in which none of the persons have been convicted, thus betraying their wickedness and desperation to mislead the public, the court and divert attention from the heavy looting involving their members.
“We are not in doubt that the individuals he has mentioned will take their legitimate stride and pursue appropriate action in the court. However, attacks on individuals, who are members of our party, does not in anyway detract from the fact that the PDP, as a political platform, is not a party of corruption.
“It is unfortunate that the APC and its government under whose watch horrendous sleazes are happening on daily basis and a government that has failed to fulfill the littlest of its campaign promises, can spend a wholesome three years searching for flimsy allegations to discredit our party and its members.
In a counter accusation, the PDP described the current administration as a government that is yet to account for $26 billion (N9 trillion) stolen through corrupt oil contracts in the NNPC.
According to the PDP, other funds that are yet to be accounted for under the current administration include N1.1
trillion worth of crude diverted to service APC interests, N18 billion Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) intervention fund allegedly stolen by APC officials, the N10 billion National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the Mainagate.
It further said, “This is in addition to cover provided for serving ministers indicted for corrupt enrichment, among whom is a prominent former APC governor from the southsouth, who was indicted by his state for stealing billions of naira to fund President Buhari’s campaign in 2015.
“We emphatically say that the PDP is on a rebound and such flimsy allegations by the APC and its horde of looters, who stole humongouswealth from their respective states of the federation to sponsor an incompetent candidate in 2015, cannot stop us from challenging theFederal Government to fulfill its campaign promises.
“Since, the APC has decided to draw this attack, we will no longer hold back but appropriately commence a serialization of all looters hiding in APC and the Presidency”.
Be Ready To Prove Your Claim In Court, Secondus Tells Lai Mohammed
Also, the national chairman of PDP, Prince Uche yesterday told the Minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to be ready to establish his allegations in court that he (Second-us) collected N200million from the former National Security Adviser.
The party chairman, who denied collecting any money from the former NSA, however noted that the minister’s ploy is to distract him from serving the PDP.
A statement by spokesman to the national chairman of PDP, Ike Abonyi, noted: “The agenda of the Minister is to damage his reputation and distract him from serving his party but he has failed woefully. For the purposes of some gullible public Prince Secondus never collected any money from the NSA under any guise.”
Nigerians Want Their Money Back, Not Apologies – Presidency
Meanwhile, the presidency yesterday advised Nigerians to be cautious of the “less-than-honest apology” offered by the PDP national chairman, Uche Secondus.
In a statement by the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the presidency said the point made by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, is apt and on cue, that there are heavy moral duties that go with apologies if the culprits want to be taken seriously.
According to Shehu, the PDP is desperate to recapture power because it no longer has unhindered access to national resources for private uses and therefore, its apology should be seen in this context.
The presidential spokesman observed that the PDP has not even acknowledged the fact that it plundered the national economy.
He said for a party that dismissed the anti-corruption war as a political witch-hunt, it is impossible to believe that its public apology comes from the bottom of the heart.
Shehu contended that even desperate thieves apologise because they are caught and not because they are incapable of repeating the crime if they hav another opportunity.
He said, “We believe that the PDP should not only apologize for the imposition of candidates, and the culture of impunity, but must also come clean and acknowledge that they participated in large scale corruption and massive diversions of public funds to private pockets while poverty was ravaging the ordinary Nigerians.”
Shehu noted that instead of addressing the cogent issues raised by the minister, the PDP veered off to accuse the Buhari administration ofborrowing money “but failed in that regard to admit that they borrowed to steal while Buhari administration is borrowing to set up long-delayed infrastructure”.