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1 Apr 2018

Lai Muhammed given 48 hours to withdraw statement

The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, has given the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, 48 hours to withdraw his statement against him or face litigation.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed
According to the spokesperson for the PDP chairman, Mr. Ike Abonyi, who said this in a statement on Saturday, Secondus made the demand in a letter to the minister by his lawyer, Mr.  Emeka Etiaba (SAN).

The minister had alleged that the party chairman collected N200m from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2015.

But in the letter with reference number EESE&C/1/31/03/18 dated March 31, 2018 and addressed to the minister, the party chairman also demanded a retraction, apology and payment of N1.5bn as damages.

The lawyer alleged that the said publication “has damaged the image of Secondus as he has been humiliated, castigated and vilified by many as a result of the falsehood published by the minister.”

The letter noted that if Mohammed failed to meet the demands within 48 hours, “we shall within 72 hours from today, proceed to a court of competent jurisdiction to ventilate our client’s right under the law and shall further seek the protection of the court against you.”

Also, on Saturday, the PDP alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari had no moral rectitude to fight corruption in the country, describing him as a direct beneficiary of what it called “corruption freebies” deployed by his party leaders to fund his 2015 presidential campaign.

The party noted that the President, who declared that he had no resources to run a presidential campaign in 2015, ought to have known, particularly as a leader, that the billions of naira deployed in his campaigns were proceeds of alleged corrupt activities of known All Progressives Congress governors and leaders.

The party therefore challenged Buhari to make open the sources of funds available to his campaign in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 races, as well as the names of the donors.

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said Buhari and his party leaders had “huge confessions” to make on how they allegedly raked in stolen state resources to prosecute the 2015 elections.

He said, “If the Federal Government and the APC are serious about fighting corruption and not just out to persecute PDP members, they should have begun with the probe into the source of the billions of naira used for President Buhari’s 2015 presidential campaigns, particularly in the face of allegations that the fund was looted from treasuries of various APC states.

“Can President Buhari, in all honesty, claim ignorance of reports in the open media that a South-South governor (allegedly) looted several billions from his state accounts and diverted the sums into Buhari’s 2015 campaigns?

“We challenge President Buhari to tell Nigerians what he has done regarding the leaked memo showing N9tn ($25bn dollars) corrupt oil contracts at the NNPC as well as the alleged stealing of N1.1tn worth of crude oil, all in a sector under his direct purview as Minister of Petroleum.

“The Presidency should tell Nigerians what has been done to recover the stolen N18bn Internally Displaced Persons intervention fund and the N10bn National Health Insurance Scheme fund alleged to have been stolen from the Treasury Single Account by APC officials and Presidency cabal.”

Also, the Chairman, PDP Governors Forum, Ayodele Fayose, in a related development, faulted the “looters’ list” released by the Federal Government which included the name of Secondus.

Fayose, who is the Ekiti State governor, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, wondered why the list did not include the names of those who had been earlier indicted by the Federal Government.

The statement said, “Surprisingly, while the name of the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus (with N200m) appeared on Lai Mohammed’s clownish “looters’s list”, that of Diezani Alison-Madueke, who they claimed to have traced N47.2bn and $487.5m to, was missing.

“Is it that the Federal Government lied against Diezani ab initio, or she has also been baptised into the All Progressives Congress comity of saint looters?”

In its own reaction, the Rivers State Government has said it will not publish the list of those indicted by a panel of inquiry it set up to probe the sale of assets belonging to the state because a White Paper on the matter was already in the public domain.

The Commissioner for Information, Emma Okah, told one of our correspondents that the immediate past governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, had gone to court to challenge the constitution of the judicial panel of inquiry.

He said, “If the White Paper has done the job and it is in the public domain, what is new again about the list?”

A former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, also alleged that there was a secret plan by the Federal Government to convict him for corruption.

Metuh, who is on trial before a Federal High Court in Abuja for alleged corruption, was named by Mohammed to be among six members of the PDP who allegedly looted the treasury in 2015.

Metuh, in a statement titled ‘My reply to the media trial’ on Saturday, said, “By this publication, the Federal Government has breached our constitution by seeking to burden me with two criminal trials on the same charge, one before Justice Okon Abang and the other before the media.”

“The major crux of the prosecutions argument is that I ought to have known that the money was part of an alleged and yet-to-be proven unlawful activity of Col Sambo Dasuki(retd.), a former NSA to President Jonathan.

“In view of the weakness of the case against me, the APC led Federal Government resorted to all kinds of dirty tactics to dehumanise and intimidate me.

“I have been reliably informed that the Federal Government has ordered a conviction at all cost to ensure that the PDP is tainted before the elections. The government ‘s determination to achieve this objective is clearly highlighted by the refusal to allow me to attend to my deteriorating health notwithstanding several expert medical opinions on the matter.”

Metuh said that, by going to the media to name him a looter and without cross-checking the definition and dictionary meaning of the word, the Federal Government has not only given “ a body language but has issued a direct intimidation and threat to the judiciary to get a compulsory conviction.”

With this, he said there was no way the Federal Government would allow justice to be done in his case.

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