The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Thursday rose strongly in defence of the Senior Special Assistant to President, Dr. Doyin Okupe, whom the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has been mounting pressures that he should be relieved of his appointment over allegations bordering on corruption.
ACN has been pressuring President Goodluck Jonathan to sack Okupe based on accusation that he was under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for failure to execute paid contracts with the Benue State Government in 2006.
But in a statement signed by the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Binta Masi Garba, the party described the call and allegation as baseless.
Also, the Director of Media in the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Dr. Olusanyo Awosan, described the ACN as bundle of contradiction, as the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Ikuforiji is still battling allegations of a N7 billion fraud. Awosan said “Ikuforiji has been quizzed by the EFCC for allegedly siphoned N500 million through first line charge in 14 months. He has been charged by the EFCC and the ACN has not seen and deemed it necessary to ask that he should resign.”
PDP said it was wondering which agenda ACN is playing when even the “EFCC through its spokesman had said Okupe is not currently under any criminal investigation by the commission as claimed by the ACN.
“He has neither been charged nor indicted by any court of law, panel or committee in the country till date. The call by the ACN for Okupe’s removal is therefore not only baseless, unwarranted but equally malicious.”
PDP said President Jonathan “will not be blackmailed into following a destructive agenda by a group that thrives on trumped up lies and misinformation.
“We believe that the matter should be rested at this point without any further undue political exploitation or misrepresentation. It is a common saying that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones and he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.
“By the appointment of Okupe, the President has taken a right decision to engage members of the public on salient issues of national importance and debates and also allow for a deepening of the channels of communication between the Presidency and the citizenry. He must therefore be allowed to discharge his duties without undue distractions”, PDP said.
Meanwhile, a group, Congress of South-west Youth (COWSY), has criticised the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, over his recent call for the resignation of the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji.
Okupe had recently called for Ikuforiji’s resignation based on his pending trial on the money laundering charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The group at a press conference yesterday described the call by Okupe as misguided and uncouth, adding that it is yet to fathom why Okupe could descend so low as to take the offer to be an attack dog to President Jonathan administration.
“We wonder why he would be an attack dog to Jonathan’s administration to the extent that every well meaning individual or group having opposing views to that of the Federal Government has become a potential target for mudslinging and malignant attack in the media.
“What penchant for public relevance or monetary gain could have prompted Okupe to make unfounded and prejudicial vituperations about a case that is already undergoing trial in court?” the group queried.
The group noted that it was contemptuous for anybody to suggest that the Speaker of the Lagos House should resign when the law is explicit on the fact that a person standing trial in court should be presumed innocent until when proven guilty by a competent and independent law court.
COWSY stated that contrary to Okupe’s blackmail against Ikuforiji, “it is sacrosanct that the rule of law should reign supreme in matters of this nature while the court remains the final arbiter in any matter of dispute.
“The truth of the matter is even that Mr. Speaker was never accused of misappropriation of funds, neither is he being tried in the court for corruption. It is on record that the EFCC officials in their investigation could not trace any stolen money to Ikuforiji in relation to fraud or misappropriation.
“The body language of President Jonathan and his hired hatchet men like Okupe has clearly shown that the PDP is all out to destabilise Lagos and the entire South-west by hiding behind one finger to divert the attention of the people from the failings and shortcomings of the Federal Government in addressing lingering issues of national importance,” the group stated