Stop Harassment of Political Opponents, Secondus Tells Magu
• Alleges Atiku, others slated for arrest
• Presidency, EFCC deny allegations
Iyobosa Uwugiaren, Adedayo Akinwale and Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, yesterday warned the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, to stop harassing perceived political opponents of President Muhammadu Buhari or risk exploding the country.
“The country is on a keg of gunpowder at the moment as a result of your hatchet job for the ruling government and I warn you to get away from this illegitimate job of using instruments of state to harass and intimidate opponents,” the main opposition party chairman stated in a press statement by his media adviser, Mr. Ike Abonyi.
Secondus said that the federal government and the ruling party had listed critical players in the opposition party, including himself; the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi; the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara; and other top party leaders and their associates for arrest on frame up crimes.
The party had complained recently that the accounts of Obi, his family members and associates had been frozen by the EFCC, alleging on Sunday that the house of Atiku’s son was raided by the anti-graft agency in a bid to harass its presidential candidate.
Secondus said Magu had made himself a willing tool to carry out the APC script on how to cage and crush the PDP.
He said available intelligence showed that former Lagos State governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, and former Akwa Ibom State governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio, were allegedly presiding over clandestine meetings and developing strategies for the APC, which were aimed at freezing critical leaders of the opposition.
He said that aside arrest and detention of opposition leaders, their family members and business associates have been lined up for intimidation and harassment, including freezing their business interests and their bank accounts.
The party chairman described as an afterthought fabrication, the EFCC denial that the son of the PDP presidential candidate was not the target in the raid of an apartment housing him in Abuja insisting that information available to the party was clear on who was the ultimate target.
Secondus reminded Nigerians that these acts of impunity is in continuation of the embarrassment they caused Atiku on November 11, 2019 when he was thoroughly searched at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport by operatives of the state on his return from overseas.
He said, “After that embarrassment and harassment, which was aimed at intimidating the candidate and nothing incriminating was found on him, no apology was extended to him as a former number two citizen.
“They followed it up with the freezing of the bank account of our vice presidential candidate as well as that of his friends and family members as part of a large scheme to keep the party distracted from its focus of regaining power in 2019.
“According to the script PDP will be brought to their knees so that by January they would be finally grounded with their leaders framed up and put behind bars.”
He said in the script, APC and the federal government believed that the party could only bark and not bite as observed in the case of Osun and Ekiti States while indeed they were set and determined for the worse rather than lose the election.
Secondus warned that while the PDP believed and cherished all ingredients of democracy, including the rule of law, it could not guarantee any situation that aimed at cowing the opposition and thwart the will of the Nigeria people.
He chided Magu and others who are willing to assist the APC in undermining democracy, to look back at history and know that the consequences are always not palatable.
PDP Condemns Raid of Atiku’s Son by EFCC
Meanwhile, the PDP yesterday strongly condemned the invasion of the residence of the son of its presidential candidate, Atiku, by the EFCC.
But in a swift reaction, the anti-graft commission denied the reported action.
EFCC said in a press statement by its acting spokesman, Tony Orilade, ‘’We have received several calls and email messages asking us to confirm the arrest of the sons of the Presidential Candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as being alleged in some quarters.
”Some only said we raided the apartments of Atiku’s son’s looking for foreign currencies. This is nothing but another tales by moonlight.’’
An online newspaper, Premium Times, had reported that an apartment occupied by two sons of Atiku in Maitama, Abuja was searched by anti-graft operatives in Abuja over the weekend.
The building also houses an apartment occupied by Mr. Chiemeka Orji, son of ex-Abia State governor, Senator Theodore Orji, which was also reportedly searched by anti-graft operatives.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, while reacting to the invasion, said that the present administration had unleashed unwarranted attacks on the opposition members.
According to him, “They have unleashed attacks on our members and on families of our presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate. All they’ve resulted to now is intimidation and harassment of the opposition leaders.
“So, we condemn a very strong terms possible, the invasion for no just reason of the residence of the son of our presidential candidate.”
Ologbondiyan recalled that just last week the vice presidential candidate of the party had his account, his wife’s account and that of their businesses accounts frozen.
He added, “Now the EFCC went to the house of the sons of our presidential candidate, picked one of his friends, drilled him on allegation that our presidential candidate was keeping dollar in that house.
“They turned the house upside down and found nothing in the residence. It is unimaginable that a government, which contested election with a sitting government and won through the ballot, has descended to this type of outlandish attack, intimidation, humiliation of the opposition members and their families.”
But denying the action yesterday, EFCC said that it was in the news that it had been investigating the former Abia governor, Orji, over alleged N27 billion money laundering, saying that in the course of investigation, it discovered that he laundered part of the money through his sons, adding it had been on the trail of some of the purchases made by his son including the cars the boys allegedly bought.
It explained, ‘’Last Friday, we traced one of the cars to a night club in Abuja. In order not to cause panic, we waited until the business of the club was over and when the owner of the suspected car came to enter to take off, we arrested him and his friend who has a similar brand of car. That was about 5am on Saturday, December 8, 2018.
‘’The two boys we arrested were Ogbonna Orji, 32, and Kelvin Ilonah. While Orji’s car, a Range Rover is valued at about N100 million, Ilonah’s car also a Range Rover, is valued at N35 Million.
‘’In the course of further interrogation, the two boys led us to their apartment, three flats, and documents retrieved from the apartment showed it was rented for N13 million each per annum.’’
The commission further claimed that another brand new Prado Jeep, a 2017 model was recovered from the boys in the compound, saying the two boys in question gave useful information to the commission, which is helping in our further investigation.
According to the commission, ‘’The EFCC, as a responsible organisation is abreast of the establishment mandate and we shall not deviate from such mandate.
‘’We never went after Atiku’s sons neither were Atiku’s sons among the two boys arrested. There is no link whatsoever to Atiku.’’
Presidency Fires Back at PDP, Says You’re Peddling Fake News
Also denying the PDP’s claims, the presidency urged Nigerians to discountenance the alleged search on the apartment of two sons of Atiku.
Responding to the allegations, the Senior Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, said, “PDP is now a flowing stream of fake news,” adding, “Our advice to Nigerians is: ignore them.”
According to the presidential spokesperson, “The story about the raid ‘ordered by Buhari-led government’ on the home of PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar’s son and the fairy tale on the alleged blockage of the bank accounts of the running mate, Governor Peter Obi and his family are both untrue, and should be dismissed as just another manifestation of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP’s growing expertise in fake news.
“Nigerians must be becoming wary by now, of a political party with absolutely nothing to offer in the coming elections and has instead, transformed into a knight in shining armor, slaying the truth. In this so-called transformation, PDP has changed into nothing but to a ceaselessly flowing stream of fake news.
“It is impossible to find in Nigeria today, anyone propagating fake news more than the PDP.”