- Says nobody asked him to resign
Against the background of speculations regarding his whereabouts after an alleged encounter with operatives of the Department of State Security, (DSS), the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, saturday spoke out about what transpired between him and the DSS. Oshiomhole emphatically denied being arrested by the domestic intelligence organisation, as was widely speculated in the media, but explained that he was only invited for a chat and was neither detained nor granted bail or asked to resign.
The APC national chairman, who made the clarifications during an interactive session with senior editors in Lagos, also said he did not flee the country as claimed by his opponents.
“I was invited and I honoured the invitation by the DSS. I was not arrested. I was invited for a conversation by the DSS concerning the APC primaries in some states. Nobody asked me to resign. I went to the DSS to honour their invitation and left afterwards,” Oshiomhole stated.
It had been widely reported in the media that Oshiomhole was detained by the DSS last Sunday and grilled for nine hours after some APC governors alleged that he received bribes from certain individuals in the ruling party during the party’s primary elections across the country to influence the list of candidates submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It was further alleged that the agency asked Oshiomhole to resign during interrogation.
But the former Edo State governor said, “On the issue of corruption, if the DSS invitation had to do with corruption, as it was alleged, it wasn’t the job of the DSS to investigate such. It’s the job of the ICPC or EFCC. The invitation, therefore, had nothing to do with corruption. I was invited in relation to the party’s primaries and I honoured the invitation. I had a conversation with them and left. I was never arrested or grated bail.”
He added, “I merely honoured the invitation and had a conversation with the DSS. This is not the first time; they have come to my office before wanting clarifications on issues and I’ve always provided them with any relevant information in my possession.
“In any case, I’m the chairman of a political party. I’m not an appointee of the government. So, it is not the job of the DSS – even though I’m always willing to assist when necessary – to investigate me, assuming the issue I was invited for has to do with corruption, as it is being portrayed to the public. That’s the job of the EFCC, not the DSS.”
On the question of who came to pick him up at the DSS office, Oshiomhole stated that he was the one who called Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to come, but he didn’t pick me up, I drove out the way I came in. He reiterated that since he became the chairman of APC, the DSS had been to his office before “whenever they have concerns requiring proper clarifications”.
Regarding the call by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and INTERPOL to track Oshiomhole down, as news spread about his encouter with DSS, and insinuation that he was on the run since his reported interrogation. The former president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) retorted that if the DSS had invited the chairman of the opposition party for spending dollars during their convention, “by now they would have been shouting that ‘this is the end of democracy!’. They would have been writing petitions to the United Nations, the EU and other international bodies.”
Oshiomhole also spoke on the unending crisis in his party, saying the party is largely at peace, except for three states that have issues concerning their primary. He regretted that the issue was being blown out of proportion possibly because of the calibre of people involved.
He stated, “Some people are unhappy because they didn’t have their way in three states. We have said that things must change. We cannot continue in the old ways. When we said change, maybe some people interpreted it differently: change from one party to another. But what we meant was change from the old ways of doing things. We cannot continue in the old ways. We are going to stick to what we are doing so people will know that certain things just can’t continue as before.”
Oshiomhole had last week come under attack by some prominent members of his party, especially Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, and Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, respectively, who rejected the outcome of the recent primaries. The trio accused the APC national chairman of deepening the existing schism in the party, whose primaries were marred by controversy. Elections in some states had to be repeated. For example, in Zamfara, INEC said the party would not participate in the 2019 polls because it could not successfully conclude its primary election before the deadline.
In Imo, the APC favoured the governorship candidacy of Hope Uzodimma, who is currently senator representing Imo West, over Uche Nwosu, son-in-law of Okorocha. In Ogun State, Amosun fell out with the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) after it chose Dapo Abiodun as the state’s governorship candidate. Abiodun Akinlade was Amosun’s preferred candidate.
Oshiomhole was largely blamed for the governors’ ordeal.
But during the interactive session saturday, Oshiomhole rhetorically asked those who accused him of taking bribes to work against the governors if it wouldn’t have been easier for him to collect money from the governors, who obviously had huge election war chest to support their nominations.
Similarly, last week, a chieftain of the APC and Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, asked Oshiomhole to resign to save the party from further embarrassment.
Speaking against the background of allegations of corruption arising from the recent party primaries, Okechukwu said Oshiomhole’s exit would remove a heavy burden from the party. He also urged the DSS and EFCC to immediately probe the recent call logs of Oshiomhole. Addressing a press conference at the party’s national secretariat, Okechukwu said it was important for Oshiomhole to resign to save APC and Buhari’s re-election bid.