Ahead of Saturday’s national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Buruji Kashamu has drawn the attention of delegates, leaders and stakeholders of the party to media reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was planning to re-arrest some aspirants accused of corruption cases.
According to the media reports, which are yet to be refuted, the aspirants included two former Governors from the South-West and two other aspirants from the South-South who were accused of receiving money from the Office of the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd).
In a statement issued Thursday in Abuja, Kashamu said, “While it is true that an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, our great party cannot afford to close its eyes to this potential threat.
“It is a no-brainer that if a national chairman with a corruption case is elected, the party will literally be put on trial with him.
“This is one avoidable risk that is too much to take. You can be sure that a corruption trial of the national chairman of an opposition party will come with a lot of bad publicity that will sound the death knell the party.
“To the best of my knowledge, two of our leaders, former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and ex-acting National Chairman of our great party, Prince Uche Secondus are national chairmanship aspirants who fit the above description,” Kashamu said.
He was making reference to a story which was headlined, “National convention: EFCC on the trail of chairmanship aspirants”.
The report reads inter alia, “Ahead of the Saturday’s Elective National Convention of the former ruling Party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, are said to be warming up for re-arrest of at least five of its aspirants.
“Informed source at both the National Secretariat of the Party and the anti-graft Agency told the Nigerian Tribune last Night that the breakdown of the aspirants indicated Four National Chairmanship and one Deputy National Chairmanship aspirants respectively
According to our sources, the aspirants included two former Governors from the South-West and two other aspirants from the South-South who were accused of receiving money directly or indirectly from the former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“The Party’s out going National Caretaker Committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi had last month raised the alarm that the EFCC under the All Progressives Congress, APC, had marked over 50 top members of the party for arrest over false corruption related allegations.
“Though both the Commission and the Administration denied it but several chieftains of the Party including former Governors, Ministers and a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation were picked up and detained for weeks by the Commission.
“However, the Party again through its Spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, on Wednesday raised the alarm that some overzealous top Government officials were working round the clock to disrupt the forthcoming National Convention of the Party out of fear that the Party was out to chase the APC out of power.
Prince Adeyeye who said that the affected government officials were doing the plot without the knowledge of President Mohammadu Buhari, appealed for his intervention and stop the evil plot in the overall interest of the nation’s hard earned democracy.
An informed Party source confirmed to the Nigerian Tribune last night that the leadership of the Party had already got wind of the possible rearrest of its Aspirants with EFCC cases.
The source said that mother of all fears had already gripped the affected aspirants possible arrest by the Commission only to be released after the Convention.
A top official of the EFCC told the Nigerian Tribune in confidence that the Commission could re-arrest any suspect at any time there was fresh evidence against him and that if it was true that the Commission was on the trail of the aspirants, ‘it means that the Commission is having fresh facts against them’.”
Senator Kashamu urged the delegates and stakeholders, especially the South East, to support the quest of the South West to produce the national chairman in the interest of equity and justice.
While calling on the South-East to borrow a leaf from the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) in supporting the South-West in its aspiration, Kashamu said, “Our brothers and sisters from the South-East need to be categorical now in support of the South-West on the ongoing national chairmanship tussle between the South-West and the South-South.
”The implication of this avoidable tussle is to make uncertain the settled South-East vice-presidential quest in 2019. If the South-East expectedly takes a principled stance in support of the South-West, naturally as a reliable race in adherence to agreements, the Yoruba people would reciprocate without any prompting. What is currently happening is glaringly an orchestrated assault on the South-West to end up with nothing in 2019, just like we did when our party was in power. This is a dangerously illogical political permutation for 2019 national elections.”
Although the lawmaker acknowledged the right of others to seek election, he was of the view that it should not be done at the expense of established norms and agreements.
“Without prejudice to anybody’s right to aspire for party positions, it is an open secret that the PDP national chairmanship had been conceded to the South-West pre-Port Harcourt convention. It was because of this that the other positions zoned to the South-West are innocuous deputies to substantive offices except the National Treasurer. All these are because of the vital national chairmanship had already been conceded to the South West.
“It is in the light of the above that I wish to reiterate my call on our notable leaders, elders and delegates to put the interest of democracy and the future of our great party above any pecuniary interest or considerations. This is the time we have to rebrand our party and reposition it,” Kashamu said.
He commended the PDP Northern Elders Forum for supporting the South-West, saying their principled stance in support of the South-West has been noted and would be reciprocated at the appropriate time.