Tobi Soniyi, Ejiofor Alike in Lagos, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Laleye Dipo in Minna and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately proscribe the All Progressives Congress (APC) following allegations that it financed President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s 2015 campaign with looted funds.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Monday, also gave the Buhari-led presidency a three-day ultimatum to respond to allegations that it was elected with looted funds or find itself top of the list of confirmed looters.
The party said instead of the Presidency and the APC to come out with a response on how President Buhariâ€™s 2015 campaign was funded with looted sums, they are busy hallucinating about names of individuals whose matters are before the courts of competent jurisdiction.
In the meantime, an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, former PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, erstwhile governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu and Fani Kayode, including a senior lawyer have reacted separately to the newly released list by the APC-led government with some of them threatening to take legal action to put the records straight.
In the same vein, the Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, has told President Muhammadu Buhari to stop castigating the members of the PDP as being corrupt, saying the president is superintending over the most corrupt government in the history of Nigeria.
He said Buhari has been busy shielding looters of the treasury in his government, saying: â€œNigerians have seen through their deceit and will no longer buy that fake image of integrity they are trying to sell.â€
The governor said: â€œWith the Transparency Internationalâ€™s Corruption Perception Index saying that corruption has become more endemic in Nigeria than it was in the last 16 years, with the country moving 12 places below its rating, a honourable government would have stopped using the fight against corruption as its major achievement and releasing names of people that are still under trial as looters just to cover up its failure.â€
He said the first list of alleged looters released by the government was politically motivated and the second one was an afterthought that was done to cover the shame of the government because Nigerians questioned the first list.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Ologbondiyan, on Monday, also gave the Buhari-led Presidency a three-day ultimatum to respond to allegations that it was elected with looted funds or find itself top of the list of confirmed looters.
“It is evidently clear that the APC, federal government and the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, are running away from the issue of how they raised money to install Buhari as President.
“They have pressed the panic button and resorted to unfounded allegations against PDP members just to divert the attention of Nigerians and the international community from their atrocious government and its manifold failures of leadership.
“The PDP will not join the panicky APC and the federal government in their resort to engage in matters that are subjudiced because we believe and respect the rule of law, particularly, as it concerns the rights of every citizen.
“We know those in the APC and Buhariâ€™s cabinet, who as champions of looting, plundered the resources of their various states and handed same over for the very expensive electioneering campaign of President Buhari, who had earlier confessed of his insolvency.
“We have challenged the APC and the Presidency to declare the sources of these funds and how they were used since they have been proven to come from public coffers.
“Now that the APC, the federal government, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Buhari Presidency have chosen a loud silence rather than accepting that looted funds were used to install Buhari as president in 2015, we charge INEC to do the needful by commencing the process for the proscription of the APC as a political party,” he said.
In a statement on Monday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose reiterated that Nigerians were more interested in their welfare, security of their lives and physical development of the country than tales of concocted lists of corrupt Nigerians, who are only corrupt in the estimation of the government because they do not belong to the ruling APC.
â€œThe Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) never pretended to Nigerians that it had corrupt people in its fold and the party never protected them. Today, the party has gone ahead to offload the corrupt elements into the APC and they were not only accepted gladly into the party, they were given prominent appointments by the president,â€ Fayose said.
The governor, who likened President Buhari to a father who is protecting his children that are armed robbers but calling on security agents to arrest children of his neighbour for stealing meat from their motherâ€™s pot said: â€œFor any lists of alleged looters to be credible, the President, who is protecting looters should be number one while those looters in his government should follow.
â€œHis nomination form was bought with proceeds of corruption and those who bought the form and financed his election were paid back with the return of all their seized properties, ministerial appointments and even disappearance of prosecution witnesses in EFCC cases.â€
Speaking further, Governor Fayose said: â€œA government that reinstated and promoted Abdullahi Maina, who was declared wanted for corrupt practices by the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) and dismissed in 2013 for alleged N2.1 billion pension fraud and used APC broom to sweep the $25 billion contracts scam in the NNPC under the carpet is nothing but a government of plunderers and that is the clear definition of Buhariâ€™s government.
â€œIt was in this same government that the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, suspended the National Health Insurance Scheme Executive Secretary, Professor Usman Yusuf, for alleged corruption and the president recalled him even without the knowledge of the minister.
â€œUp till today, nothing has happened to the probe panel on the alleged N500 million bribery said to have been paid to the Presidentâ€™s Chief of Staff (COS), Abba Kyari by officials of MTN to influence government to discontinue its heavy stance on the $5 billion fine imposed on the company.
â€œTherefore, no matter how hard they try now, they can no longer hoodwink Nigerians with their deceit of fight against corruption. Even APC Senator, Shehu Sani once said that the President uses insecticide to fight corruption involving his perceived political opponents, but use deodorant when it affects his own men.â€
Omokri Disagrees, Releases Own List
A former aide to ex-President Jonathan on New Media, Mr. Reno Omokri, has faulted the list of looters released by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed, saying the list did not contain even one member of the APC.
Omokri, who has also released a list of alleged looters in President Buhariâ€™s cabinet, said in a statement Monday that the list released by Mohammed has proved that Buhari, the Information Minister and the APC are not fighting corruption but fighting the opposition.
Similarly, a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, has said that the release of a purported looters list by the federal government is an attempt to intimidate the judiciary to convict at all costs those facing trial in various courts.
In his reaction to the list which included him and 22 others, Fani-Kayode described as nonsensical and utterly shameful the looters’ list released last Sunday by the Minister for Information and Culture, Mohammed.
In his reaction, Omokri said he took the pains to produce a â€˜teaserâ€™ looters list of APC members who are collectively alleged to have looted over $2 billion and challenged President Buhari and the Information Minister to explain why these men did not feature on their list.
The former presidential aide also sought to know these alleged looters have continued to remain in the APC government where they wield immense powers and influence, even over the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that is meant to prosecute them.
Omokri, who threatened to release more names, depending on the reaction of the President Buhari-led government, listed the alleged looters in APC to include: Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, whom he said was indicted by the Justice George Omeregi-led Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry of looting N97 billion along with co-indictees, including a former army general.
He also named Saminu Turaki, whom he alleged to have looted N36 billion and was first charged before Justice Sabiâ€™u Yahuza of the Federal High Court in Dutse, Jigawa State before his current trial before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba at the FCT High Court.
Omokri also identified Timipre Sylva as a well-known financier and supporter of the APC administration of President Buhari, saying that he was also alleged to have looted N19.7 billion.
Omokri disclosed that Sylva was facing trial before Justice A. Y. Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja until two days after President Buhari was sworn in, when the new APC government withdrew the charges on June 1, 2015, and on October 3, 2018, the EFCC returned to the former governor, 48 houses seized from him during the administration of former President Jonathan in 2013.
Omokri also listed Murtala Nyako, who allegedly looted N29 billion and is currently facing trial before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, as well as Senator Danjuma Goje, who allegedly looted N25 billion and is facing trial before the Federal High Court, sitting in Jos.
The former presidential aide also listed Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who was charged to court on March 3, 2010, for allegedly looting N15 billion with the help of 18 other accused persons and Mr. Orji Kalu, who allegedly looted N3.2 billion and is facing trial before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
Omokri also named the Minister of Solid Minerals, Mr. Kayode Fayemi, whom he said was indicted by the Ekiti Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by former Ekiti State chief judge and the Oluyin of Iyin-Ekiti, Ademola Ajakaiye, of sundry financial malfeasance totalling over N2 billion.
Other APC chieftains named by Omokri include: Senator Joshua Dariye, who allegedly looted N1.2 billion and is currently facing trial before Justice Adebukola Banjoko at an FCT High Court and a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, who allegedly gave a N200 million contract to his own company from monies meant to look after Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Omokri noted that Lawal had been sacked after the protest by the opposition and civil society but still not been charged, instead, was replaced by his own cousin.
He challenged President Buhari and Mohammed to explain to Nigerians why they failed to reveal to Nigerians that President Buhari himself is a major beneficiary of the funds that the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki, received from the treasury for the security of Nigerians.
â€œI assure Nigerians that Sambo Dasuki is not in jail for a crime he committed in 2015. He is rather being persecuted for a â€˜crimeâ€™ he committed in 1985,â€ Omokri added.
Omokri argued that by the omission of the names of APC chieftains in the list of looters, the Buhari-led federal government has vindicated Transparency International.
â€œAccording to Transparency Internationalâ€™s Corruption Perception Index, Nigeria is more corrupt today under Buhari than at any other time since Transparency International started keeping records. We have moved 12 places backwards from 136 to 148. Yet this administration has the guts to accuse a government under whom Nigeria made her best ever progress on the Corruption Perception Index of corruption? We moved from 144 to 136 in 2014 under President Jonathan because that government fought corruption in court and not through the media,â€ Omokri explained.
It’s an Attempt to Intimidate Judges, says Fani-Kayode
In his own statement, Fani-Kayode said: “Apart from that it is a crude and sordid attempt to intimidate the judges and influence the outcome of the cases which are before them and also to compel them to give the judgement that the government wants. This is not only unacceptable but it is also shameful.”
He said he did not collect any money from any governmentâ€™s officials during the reign of Dr. Jonathan.
He said that rather than persecuting innocent people, President Buhari should be bold enough to prosecute those who funded his campaign with public funds.
He said: “The fact of the matter is that no ‘looters list’ is complete without the names of Muhammadu Buhari, Yemi Osinbajo, Rotimi Amaechi, Tunde Fashola, Bola Tinubu, Lai Mohammed, Adamu Abdullahi, Dambazau, Kayode Fayemi, Babachir Lawal, Maina, Maikanti Baru, Burutai, all APC governors and other key members of the Buhari administration and the APC.”
According to him, the claim that he looted N800,000,000 from government coffers was false.
He said: “I did not receive and neither was I ever given one kobo by any government official, government agency or government parastatal during President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure.”
He said the money he received was given to him by the Director of Finance of the Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Mrs. Esther Nenadi Usman, before the election in 2015 and was specifically for the conduct of the presidential election.
“I was Director of Media and Publicity of the Campaign Organisation and it was used specifically and solely for the running and conducting of the media and publicity aspect of the election,” he said.
He said that Mrs. Usman, who was Minister of Finance during the Obasanjo government, was neither a member of the Jonathan government and neither did she manage, handle or touch any government funds in her capacity as Director of Finance of the Jonathan campaign.
Fani-Kayode said the money Mrs Usman gave to him was from a private company’s account which was used to house contributions made to the Jonathan campaign by party supporters after a series of fundraising events.
He said: “These were private funds and not public funds and neither can anyone expect us to have run an election in 2015 without any money. You do not run election campaigns with sand but with money.”
The former minister alleged that the Buhari campaign in 2015 was funded by money that could be traced directly to the state governments of Rivers State, Lagos State, Kano State, Ogun State and a number of other key APC states.
He wondered why those involved or that governed those states at the time had not been questioned, arrested or prosecuted by either the EFCC.
He said: “It is also common knowledge that President Buhari himself was offered and received several benefits and received money from the office of the former National Security Advisor, Col. Sambo Dasuki, yet nothing has been done about this.
“From the foregoing, it is clear that the Buhari administration’s so-called war against corruption is selective and punitive and it is nothing but a vicious media trial and politically-motivated witch-hunt.
“It is nothing but a squalid and mafia-like attempt to muscle, discredit, demonise and silence key members of the opposition. It is slanderous, malicious and unjust.
“If not for the fact that the Buhari administration is an irresponsible, weak, desperate and corrupt government that has no confidence in itself and no sense of decency how can they declare people that have not been convicted by any court of law as ‘looters'”.
Fani-Kayode, a lawyer, said it was a violation of the constitutional provision that an accused person was deemed innocent until he had been proved guilty by a duly constituted court of law.
He also alleged that persecuting people on the pages of newspapers was highly prejudicial to the criminal cases that they are facing.
He said: “It is a clear violation of the concept of separation of powers which gives the judiciary alone the power to determine the guilt or otherwise of an accused person.
“It is a trite law that only a court of law can declare a man guilty or declare him a thief or a looter and not Buhari and his government.
“How can anyone get a fair trial in a country when the government has already pronounced them guilty before the world?
“You cannot be the investigator, accuser, prosecutor and judge in your own case. This is a basic principle of criminal and constitutional law which appears to have been lost on President Buhari and his cohorts.
“I don’t blame him: I blame Vice-President Osinbajo who, as a Professor of Law and a learned SAN, should know better and who I am reliably informed is the co-ordinator of all these politically-motivated, baseless and malicious corruption cases which are being conducted against opposition members by the EFCC.
“He is the one that has been saddled with the shameless responsibility of manipulating the prosecutors, emboldening false witnesses, attempting to pressure the judges and attempting to send innocent men and women who are members of the opposition to jail.
“One day, whether he believes it or not, there will be a reckoning for his wickedness just as there will be one for Buhari and his entire government. God will see to that and He will judge and punish them.”
Aliyu Heads to Court
Also Monday, a former Niger State governor, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, said that he did not loot the treasury wondering why the federal government should include his name in the 24 man treasury looters’ list released again by the Minister of Information Mohammed.
Aliyu said in a statement made available to journalists in Minna, the Niger State capital, on Sunday night threatened to challenge his inclusion on the list to a logical conclusion.
The former governor explained that nobody had confronted him with any document(s) that he received N1.6 billion from the former National Security Adviser (NSA), saying “they have to prove it”.
Aliyu said the APC government had embarked on “calculated blackmail against my person” because “I refused to join the APC” adding “we all have our minds and what we believe in politics is a thing of the mind”.
The former governor said in the orchestrated plot “to tarnish my image I am currently before the federal high court and a Niger State high court for the same alleged offence
“This is to show that the government is hell-bent on bringing me down but they will not succeed”.
He declared that “I served my people to the best of my ability, I have left a landmark for posterity, no amount of blackmail or character assassination can wipe me out from the minds of the people”.
Dr Aliyu said he was already consulting his lawyers on the next line of action to take on the issue.
Lawyer Condemns Listing of Persons on Trial
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Ferdinand Orbih, has described the release of names of alleged looters, who are still on trial at different courts as totally irresponsible.
The senior lawyer said such people who are still undergoing trial over corruption allegations are presumed innocent until the cases against them are proven as enshrined in the constitution.
He said: â€œFor the federal government to label as looters, persons who are undergoing trial over corruption allegations is totally irresponsible.
â€œSuch persons are presumed innocent until proven otherwise, by the Constitution, which the president swore to uphold.â€
According to him, it does appear that the federal government does not understand what the rule of law entails or the dynamics of the due process.
â€œThe case against Nenadi Usman is still pending in court. The federal government that has labelled her as a looter of public funds is yet to prove the allegations against her in court.
â€œThe government by taking this matter to the court of public opinion is making a strong statement either that it has no confidence in the process it has initiated in court, or it is calculated to arm-twist the judiciary to convict at all costs.
â€œEither way, the publication by the government portends grave danger to democracy and the rule of law. Surely, there will be a legal response to this executive gross misbehaviour,â€ said Orbih.