Why We Can’t Go After PDP Officials on Housing Allowance Scandal — EFCC | News Nigeria 24

Why We Can’t Go After PDP Officials on Housing Allowance Scandal — EFCC

Why We Can’t Go After PDP Officials on Housing Allowance Scandal — EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said on Sunday that it may not invite Iyorchia Ayu, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC), in connection with the major opposition party’s financial scandal.

Six NWC members, including the Deputy National Chair­man (South), Taofeek Arapaja; National Woman Leader, Prof. Stella Effah-Attoe; National Vice Chairman (South-South), Chief Dan Orbih, and three others, returned over N122 million to the party’s coffers last weekend.

The NWC members claimed in separate letters to the PDP that the money was paid into their accounts without their knowledge and that they only discovered it after a national daily reported the payment as a bribe.

It was also gathered that all the 21 members of the NWC re­ceived the money but the rest of them felt there was no need to return it since it was their entitlement.

While some believed that the money was bribed to curry the favors of the NWC members by the embattled chairman, the party, however, justified the payment, saying that it is meant for housing allowance.

At the weekend, a civil rights group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), asked the EFCC to arrest the Ayu, owing to what it described as unprec­edented corruption ongoing within the PDP.

Also speaking, a former Commissioner for Information in Edo State, Prince Kas­sim Afegbua, on Sunday asked the EFCC to invite all the 21 officials of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) who received the alleged bribe disguised as a housing allowance from the party.

Afegbua, a former chief­tain of the PDP, alleged that the money paid to the NWC members was a bribe by Ayu after the party officials demanded the whereabouts of over N13 billion realized from the sale of forms during the PDP primaries.

He said, “We have a new novel idea of exposition where­by the internal corruption of PDP under Iyorchia Ayu is being exposed. When Ayu was taking over from Secondus, we thought that was going to be a breather because he is a founding member of the party who was a member of the G-34. Ayu was stark broke before he became national chairman but as soon as he came into office, it became a question of the high­est bidder. Go to his house today and you will see all manners of SUVs.

“There was a report in May this year that he returned N405 million to the EFCC. Buhari Media Organisation chal­lenged him to speak on that but today, nothing has been said. When is PDP going to learn its lessons? Is that the party that wants to take over from APC? God forbid!

“They raised about N13 billion from the sale of forms. I understood that they held a meeting of the NWC and they said where is the money? They realized that the money has been depleted to N1 billion. In order for Ayu to pacify the NWC members, he signed off the N28 million to each of them and left the country for Europe.

“Some of the members of the national working com­mittee after three or four days returned the money. Now, the party is issuing a ridiculous statement that the money was for housing allowance. Are they going to rent Aso Rock that they will pay N28 million for one year? Why is the PDP still retaining its old habits and finding it difficult to let those habits leave them? That is why today when they say PDP, Nigerians respond with ‘share the money’.

“We must commend the six NWC members who returned the money and others who are yet to return their shares must do so now because that money went to the 21 of them. EFCC should immediately step into action. That is the only way we can purge the Nigerian political process of illicit acquisition of wealth”.

When contacted, a senior official of the EFCC, who does not want his name in print because he is not authorized to speak on the issue, said it cannot go after the party officials as nobody has written any petition to it on the issue.

Even if a petition is written, he said it will be difficult for the commission to summon the party leaders, especially now that the campaign for the 2023 general elections has started.

The first is that no petition has been forwarded to us on the issue. Second, even if a petition is written, we can’t invite any of them now in the midst of campaigns for general elec­tions. If anything happens to­morrow, they will claim it was the EFCC that distracted them from campaigning”.

However, speaking with our correspondent, a member of the party’s NWC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said those who returned the hous­ing allowance were only acting under the instruction of Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, who wants to do everything to bring the PDP down having lost out in the presidential and vice presidential race.

“If you look at what happened during the time they were plotting to remove Sec­ondus, you will realize it is the same thing that is playing out now. Then, it was reported that some NWC members were given money to pass a vote of no confidence on Secondus. That is the same thing that is happening now.

“Having failed in their mission to remove Ayu and realizing he enjoys the support of the majority of party members as evidenced in the vote of no confidence by the NEC, they are now asking their loyalists in the NWC who are mostly from the South to return the money in order to create the impres­sion that the party is corrupt. But they have failed.

“Even look at the statement issued by Arapaja. He claimed that after a newspaper reported they were bribed to keep quiet over misappropriation of N15 billion, he browsed through his various alerts, and he discov­ered a transfer of N36,000,000.00 from the party.

“Is that not a laughable and ridiculous statement from a supposed adult? What is Ara­paja’s net worth? Is he Dangote or Otedola that a whopping N36 million will enter his account and he will not know until a newspaper published a report, then he browsed through his various alerts before realising N36 million was paid into his account few weeks back? What does Arapaja take Nigerians for? Fools?

“They were all aware of the money and get higher returns by those who want Ayu out at all cost. But some disgruntled people asked them to return it so as to embarrass the party and present it to Nigerians as a corrupt party”, he concluded.

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