By Bolaji Ogundele
The Presidency has said the main opposition party the, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), lacks the moral right to query President Muhmmadu Buhari’s endorsement of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) candidate in the Edo State governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. The Presidency’s reaction trailed the PDP’s comments on and condemnation of President Buhari’s endorsement of Ize-Iyamu on Friday, casting aspersions on the person of the ruling party’s candidate and querying the President’s avowed fight against corruption in the country.
In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the Presidency noted that it was improper for a party, allegedly peopled by persons with running and pending graft court cases to be raising questions on the choice of another party. According to the statement, before the PDP could be taken seriously and its admonisions taken seriously, it would first need to answer questions on corruption allegations plastered over its 16 years of rule, as well as disown some of its governors with suspended graft court trials.
“The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which has been struggling to clear its name from alleged deals with the underworld in Dubai and the United States has, to our surprise, found the voice to attack the anti-corruption war of the Muhammadu Buhari administration following the President’s endorsement of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the All Progressives Congress, APC’s dashing candidate for the governorship election in Edo State. Forgetting its own history and antecedents, the PDP said in a garrulous statement that ‘the President ought to have been aware that the Candidate is standing trial for corruption’, and then went on rant against the government’s war against corruption, alleging its failure.
READ ALSO: 2023 presidency: Fresh hurdles before Ndigbo
“Let PDP first withdraw the governorship nominations it gave to Ahmadu Fintiri and Bala Mohammed of Adamawa and Bauchi States respectively, before it opens its mouth and talk on the efforts of this administration in fighting corruption. Or else, it should shut its mouth forever and leave us to do what it dares not attempt. Both PDP governors were actually on bail from criminal trial on several counts of fraud and embezzlement. Justice A. R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, July 1, 2016 granted bail to the former acting governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri. He was charged on June 30, 2016 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alongside his company, Mayim Construction and Properties Limited on a five-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N2.9 billion.
“In the case of Bala Mohammed, the PDP Governor of Bauchi State, the EFCC, on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, arraigned the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, before Justice A. M. Talba of the Federal Capital Territory, High Court sitting in Gudu, Abuja, on a six-count charge bordering on abuse of office, false declaration of assets and fraud to the tune of N864 million. Bala, while in office as minister, allegedly received N550 million as bribe from Aso Savings and Loans Limited with respect to some properties in the Asokoro area of Abuja.
“He is said to have corruptly abused his position as Board chairman of Aso Savings by allocating four numbers fully detached duplexes and 11 numbers semi-detached duplexes valued at N314 million through the Presidential Taskforce on Sale of Government Houses, to himself. The former minister is also accused of making false declaration of his assets. Pastor Ize-Iyamu is being prosecuted by the EFCC alongside Lucky Imasuen, former deputy governor of Edo State, Chief Dan Orbih, PDP Chairman in Edo State and other leaders of the party in the state, Tony Aziegbemi and Efe Erimuoghae. Under the country‘s laws, only the courts can convict. A suspect remains a suspect until conviction. But, if in the view of the PDP, a suspect is guilty as charged, then they must show examples by withdrawing the nomination of their governors and the party’s numerous Senators and other legislators standing trial in various courts of the country,” the statement said.
Speaking on the resolve of President Buhari and his administration to clear out the nation’s Augean stables of corruption, it said the commitment with which the President had pursued corruption cases traced to the 16 years of the PDP administration and those so far discovered within his own administration had placed him beyond any reproach emanating from the PDP “A government that sees corruption in the past administration and sees corruption in its own administration, and fights it with equal gusto, cannot be placed on the same scale with those who, by their words and deeds said corruption is a way of life and Nigerians should learn to live with it,” he said.