The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) launched into a fresh stand-off yesterday after Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed named the PDP national chairman and four other members of the party as looters.
Mohammed was reacting to Thursday’s statement by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr.Kola Ologbondiyan, challenging the federal government to name those who stole public funds under the last dispensation.
Other ‘looters’ named by the Minister yesterday were the immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr.Olisa Metuh; Dr. Raymond Dokpesi; former Presidential Senior Special Assistant, Dudafa Waripamo-Owei and Robert Azibaola, a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
But the PDP hit back immediately, dismissing government’s allegation as hollow and laughable.
Ologbondiyan, PDP spokesman, asked the minister to name any of the party members that has been convicted of looting the treasury.
Mohammed alleged that Secondus collected N200 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser (NSA) while Metuh took N1.4 billion and Dr. Raymond Dokpesi collected N2.1 billion.
Describing the PDP chieftains as hypocrites, the minister said that the Federal Government will continue to make references to the alleged looting, adding that the looters and their party were unpatriotic.
Mohammed said: “The PDP has challenged us to name the looters under their watch. They said they did not loot the treasury.
“I am sure they know that the treasury was looted dry under their watch, yet they decided to grandstand.
“This shows the hollowness of their apology to Nigerians.
“Let’s just give them a teaser with this list: The PDP Chairman Uche Secondus, on the 19th of February 2015, took N200 million only from the office of then NSA.
“Then PDP Financial Secretary, on the 24th of Oct 2014, took N600 million only from the office of then NSA.
“Then National Publicity Secretary Olisah Metuh is on trial for collecting N1.4 billion from the office of then NSA.
“Dr. Raymond Dokpesi, Chairman of DAAR Communications, is on trial for taking N2.1 billion from the office of then NSA.
“Former SSA to President Jonathan, Dudafa Waripamo-Owei, is on trial over N830 million kept in accounts of four different companies.
“On Thursday, a Federal High Court ruled that former President Jonathan’s cousin, Robert Azibaola, has a case to answer for collecting $40 million from the office of then NSA.”
The minister added: “This list is just a tip of the iceberg, and the PDP is aware of this.
“We did not make these cases up. Many of these cases are in court and the records are available.
“Some of the people on this list are seeking to plea bargain, and that is a fact.
“We insist that Nigeria was looted blind under the watch of the PDP, and that the starting point in tendering an apology is for them to return the loot.
“It’s like a robber admitting to stealing your car and apologising, but then saying he will keep the car anyway. It doesn’t work that way.
“The PDP is a hypocrite. And that reminds me of what English writer William Hazlitt said: ‘’The only vice that cannot be forgiven is hypocrisy. The repentance of a hypocrite is itself hypocrisy.”
“We will not stop talking about the massive looting by the PDP.
“They brought Nigeria to this sorry pass. We are now looking around for loans to build infrastructure, and they ask us not to talk about it.
“We will talk about it.”
PDP fires back, lists cases of alleged looting under Buhari
The PDP was quick in responding to the minister’s allegation yesterday.
Ologbondiyan, speaking for the PDP in a statement, described the minister’s press conference as an extension of federal government’s media trial of PDP members.
He challenged government to come up with the names of its members against whom the federal government has secured convictions.
He said: “The list put forward by the Federal Government as purported looters amounts to a cheap blackmail as none of those listed has been indicted or convicted by any court of competent jurisdiction or any panel of enquiry in our country.
“The list issued by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, only goes to show that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Presidency have no prove of corruption against the PDP.”
The party said in its frenzy and desperation, the federal government even included names of individuals who are not standing trial or under investigation for any act of corruption, as well as those who are not even PDP members.
“The Buhari-led Federal Government has manifested its frenzy by going after matters that are in court and in which none of the persons have been convicted, thus betraying their wickedness and desperation to mislead the public, the court and divert attention from the heavy looting involving their members,” Ologbondiyan said.
“We are not in doubt that the individuals he has mentioned will take their legitimate stride and pursue appropriate action in the court.
“However, attacks on individuals, who are members of our party, do not in any way detract from the fact that the PDP, as a political platform, is not a party of corruption.
“It is unfortunate that the APC and its government under whose watch horrendous sleazes are happening on a daily basis and a government that has failed to fulfill the littlest of its campaign promises, can spend a wholesome three years