PDP Governors Frown as EFCC Commences Probe of Party’s Finances
State governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday betrayed a bizarre fear of being probed for alleged financial irregularities.
The governors, under the aegis of PDP Governors Forum, said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may have made itself a tool for the government to silence political opposition.
They want EFCC to stop probing PDP national officials over the alleged whereabouts of N10 billion generated by the party from the sale of forms for the 2019 general elections, calling the investigation a witch-hunt.
Director-General of the forum, Hon. CID Maduabum, said the party was up to date in making financial returns as required by the Constitution to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), noting that they were not aware that the electoral commission made any complaints to the EFCC on PDP’s returns.
Nigerian Sketch however notes that a member of the party who once held a political position in Edo State, Kassim Afegbua, had on April 26 submitted a petition to the EFCC demanding the leadership of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) under Uche Secondus be subjected to financial scrutiny.
Afegbua urged EFCC to look into the financial transactions of the PDP chairman because, according to him, much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Secondus have been shrouded in mystery.
Afegbua asked the anti-graft agencies to scrutinize close to N10 billion that allegedly accrued to the party from 2017 till date, especially money from sales of nomination forms for Presidential, Gubernatorial, House of Assembly and Senatorial elections.
In the petition, Afegbua accused Secondus of not using the party’s bank accounts but resorting to the use of a private account, MORUFU NIGERIA LIMITED, as a conduit to siphon money
But, Maduabum in a statement on Saturday described the petition by Prince Kassim Afegbua as the product of “a disgruntled former PDP member”, which, according to the party, raises questions on the seriousness and impartiality of the anti-graft agency to do its work.
“While the PDP as a political party is accountable to its members and the general public for its actions, we are however, concerned that the old tactics of using the EFCC to silence political opposition is creeping into our polity once again. We had expected that the EFCC under a new leadership will learn from the mistakes of its predecessors.
“It is a misplaced priority for the EFCC to abandon revelations of monumental frauds by various officials and agencies of the federal government to pursue the PDP which is the main opposition party doing a yeoman’s job of preventing the descent into chaos and anarchy in Nigeria.
“Perhaps certain interests in government are worried about the increasingly assertive role the PDP is playing in calling out corruption in government and wants to weaken and silence it.
“Even the petition in question did not make a single allegation of misuse of government funds, nor cheating of any individual or public authority by the PDP. It is therefore surprising that the EFCC should use its scarce human and other resources to begin an investigation into PDP’s finances. If the EFCC is even- handed and non-partisan, it should also conduct an investigation into other political parties including the APC, the ruling party.
Earlier in April, the PDP, at a press conference addressed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described Afegbua’s allegation as spurious and irresponsible.
The party said it did not raise “Afegbua’s fictitious sum of N10 billion” as alleged by him.
“For avoidance of doubt, PDP generated N4.6 billion and raised a budget for its expenditure, in line with all known financial regulations of our party.
“This budget passed through the organs of our party and received the approvals from the NWC, Governors’ Forum, Board of Trustees as well as other organs of the party.
“As a law-abiding political party that respects the doctrine of rule of law and transparency, the budget was presented to the National Executive Committee (NEC) where it also received a final approval,” Ologbondiyan explained.
“Having said that, as a political party, under whose administration the EFCC and the ICPC were formulated and established, our party strictly adheres to best practices of transparency, accountability and probity in all issues, including our financial administration,” PDP stressed.
The party said it had since submitted the audited account of its financial expenditures for 2019 to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in line with requirements of the law.
Nigerian Sketch observed that PDP’s Saturday statement was a reaction to EFCC’s claim that it has commenced investigation into Afegbua’s allegations.
EFCC on Tuesday, May 18 wrote a letter inviting PDP’s national auditor, national organising secretary and director of finance to meet with its Head of Operations at the EFCC National Headquarters, Jabi, Abuja, beginning from Wednesday 19.
The letter, titled ‘Investigation activities, letter of invitation for information,” with reference number: CR:3000/EFCC/ABJ/EG2/12 / Vol 2/146, dated May 17, 2021, was addressed to the National Chairman, PDP Secretariat.
The letter reads, ‘The commission is investigating an alleged case of criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud in which the need to obtain certain clarifications from your party has become imperative.
“In view of the above, you are requested to kindly release the under-listed officers of your party to attend an interview with the undersigned on the below scheduled dates at the Economic Governance Section 2, EFCC Headquarters 2nd floor, flat 301 and 302 Institution and Research District, Jabi, Abuja by 1000 hours.”
“The officers should come along with relevant documents on the sale of forms into the party’s elective positions from January 2017 to date,” the statement signed by Michael Wetkas, Head of Operations, added.