The ongoing investigation into the alleged $2.1billion arms deal took another twist last Tuesday as operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arrested the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh.
He was arrested by four operatives of the anti-graft agency from his Abuja home and spent the first night with his interrogators at the headquarters of the commission, answering questions as to how the sum of N1.4 billion strayed from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser into a company (Destra) that is linked to him.
It was gathered that Metuh had hinted that former president Goodluck Jonathan had given him a job to do and that he successfully completed it, but he failed to disclose what the job was all about, how much he was paid and when he did the job.
EFCC officials said the revelation by Metuh led its team to beam its searchlight on cash payments from the Office of the NSA and that the searchlight led to the discovery that Metuh also benefited from the $2.1bn which is now a subject of investigation and prosecution by the Federal Government.
It was learnt that out of the $2.1 billion arms funds, N400 million was transferred from Dasuki’s office to the company on November 24, 2014 which previously had a balance of N6, 676,576.06 only before the major transfer from Dasuki office.
It was further gathered that Metuh was also receiving a monthly payment of N4 million from the Office of the NSA.
His arrest has drawn reactions from both Metuh himself who said he was being persecuted and his party, PDP.
“I have not done anything unlawful. Whatever I have done in pursuance of my office, I can defend it anywhere, any time,” he had said.
PDP in its reaction through its Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Abdullahi Jalo, said the party had nothing against the anti-corruption campaign by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, but urged that the war should be waged within the confines of the nation’s laws.
Jalo said, “As a party, the PDP does not oppose the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari. What we are saying is that due process must be followed.
“If a man is arrested for any offence, especially this one that is bailable, he or she should be taken to court within 48 hours as stipulated by our laws. The EFCC or any anti-corruption body for that matter is not a court of law and cannot, on its own, be the judge, jury and executioner.
“We also make bold to say that as our members are being accused and arrested for what they did or did not do during the last administration, there are also individuals in the ruling APC, who also have questions to answer.
“We hope these agencies will also have the courage to invite such people no matter what role they are playing in government today.”
Jalo described the PDP 16-year rule as a proof that the party was not corrupt and argued that it would be unfair to criticise the party’s policies based on Metuh’s arrest.
“This little setback is an act of God and it will make the party to be greater because of the lessons it has learned. In the party, you can get 80 per cent good eggs and 20 per cent bad eggs. It is there in the APC as well. You can point to people in the APC that we know clearly are corrupt in their individual capacities. The arrest of Metuh, as far as the party is concerned, if this crime is established in a court of law, he has done it on his own as a person, not on behalf of the PDP.”
Apart from Metuh and other PDP chieftains such as the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, former minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, Chief Raymod Dokpesi that were earlier arrested in connection with the arms deal, former National chairman of the PDP, Haliru Bello and his son, Abbah Bello, were also brought before a Federal High Court in Abuja last Tuesday.
They were arraigned along with their firm, Bam Properties, on four counts of money laundering and other related offences.
The EFCC alleged that the accused persons collected about N300 million meant for the procurement of arms for political campaign from the Office of the NSA under the guise of using it for “safe houses”.
Bello, who attended the proceeding in a wheelchair, was said to have come from a hospital, where he was said to be recuperating from surgery. Both he and his son pleaded not guilty to the four counts charge.
Meanwhile, PDP chieftain, Dokpesi, has said the $2.1 billion arms deal is a creation of the All Progressives Congress, APC-led Federal Government to witch hunt and decimate the leadership and membership of PDP.
Dokpesi, who was recently granted bail in connection with N2.1 billion allegedly paid to his company by the office of the former NSA, however, expressed confidence that the courts would sooner or later prove that “this coinage” is nothing but a hoax.
“It is meant to destroy the existence of PDP. The persecution of the former NSA, National Publicity Secretary, our Chairman of Board of Trustees will fail when we begin defence,” he assured. He was speaking at an investiture on him by PDP Youth Vanguard as ‘Freedom Fighter of PDP’.
He, however, said he would not make any comment regarding the several matters filed before the courts against him and other members of PDP, “as doing so would be subjudice”.
Dokpesi said Nigerians “are reminded of the events of 1984/85 which by any stretch of comparison are similar to the events of today.”
He claimed that PDP was at a key stage of development as it embarks on critical reforms to reorganise, rebrand and restructure itself for the challenges of governance, but regretted that the governing APC “is making efforts to impede our journey to political maturity through the manipulation of the federal system to serve purely partisan interest”.
The view of Dokpesi was corroborated by the National Coordinator of PDP Youth Vanguard, Ibrahim Bala Aboki, who condemned what he called the witch hunt of PDP members by the governing party. Aboki decried the Federal Government’s selective anti-corruption war and continuous arrest of PDP members by the anticorruption agency.
“We say no to corruption, no to rampant killings in Nigeria, no to intimidation of the judiciary by APC government, no to political brigandage by APC government, no to selective justice, no to continuous arrest of PDP members, no to political vengeance, no to hunger in Nigeria,” he declared.
In its own view, Lagos State chapter of PDP accused the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, of instigating the persecution of Metuh. The party said the arrest was only being made convenient by the issue of money allegedly involved, stating that the minister of Information who still sits as the National Publicity Secretary of the APC had vowed to clamp down on the PDP publicity office superintended by Metuh.
Speaking through its state publicity secretary, Barrister Taofik Gani, the party said, “This trend is dangerous and is the last resort to APC attempts to compromise some of us. We have also been receiving funny calls from unknown numbers of threats to our persons if we continue to expose the APC governors. Unless Olisa Metuh is approached within the rule of law and immediately granted administrative bail pending any charge, we shall begin to seek asylum in safe countries. This is no doubt a totalitarian government and the world should be informed.”
According to the PDP, Mohammed also got monumental sums from Lagos State to promote the APC campaigns. It accused the APC of being a ‘pot calling kettle black’ as it said the party diverted billions of dollars meant for the completion of the now moribund light rail project, ferry jetties, Eko Atlantic Project, $20 million UNESCO grant and also plunged the state into huge foreign debt of over $3.6 billion in order to capture the presidency. The PDP has therefore called on Mohammed to allow for intellectual engagements rather than the military-like type.
Also speaking on the issue of arrest of PDP chieftains in connection with their alleged corrupt acts, Hon. Joseph Akinlaja, who is currently representing Ondo East/Ondo West in the House of Representatives said, “I for one will never support corruption. I detest it and I will never shield anyone found to be involved with the vice. However, from all indications, it appears as if the ongoing war against corruption is one-sided. This is glaring for all to see. Look at those being put on trial or investigated by the EFCC, they are PDP members. Is Mr. President telling us that APC is a party of saints? Nigerians can’t be deceived.
“For the ongoing efforts by Buhari to tame corruption to have meaning or credibility, then the whole exercise must be very transparent. It must be devoid of doubts. To many Nigerians, what is going on is persecution of PDP members. The day four or five prominent APC members are put on trial by the EFCC, then Nigerians will stop being cynical.
“Again, Buhari should realise that there are other pressing national issues that require his attention. He should not be so obsessed with his crusade against corruption to neglect other areas of our national life that require his attention,” he retorted.
But the Chairman , Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, Comrade Debo Adeniran, sees the issue differently. He said people like Dr Dokpesi will behave like any drowning man who will like to hold to any available straw.
He said that Dokpesi’s claim that the $2.1bn arms deal scam was a way of decimating the leadership of the PDP is a way of justifying what he and others had done, insisting that it was not unexpected of Dokpesi and his cohorts to behave the way they are doing and say what they are saying.
“Talking about politics, they will say that Buhari government wants to decimate their members and leadership but most of those that participated in the looting of arms money belong to their party. The PDP was in power at the time. It was the one that participated in the implementation and execution of the budget and the spending. Those in opposition then that are now in government couldn’t have been part of the arms deal fraud because they didn’t have access to the government purse then,” he said.
Former Secretary General of the Labour Party, LP, Barrister Kayode Ajulo, noted that in a multi-party system, each party would like to outwit the others.
“As it is now, what Dokpesi said is general presumption and it is for the ruling party to allay the fear but it has not done that. It is the duty of the President to allay the fear of the PDP that his anti-corruption war was not targeted at the opposition. He would need to allay that fear and show that he is the President of all Nigerians and not that of the APC.”
Ajulo also condemned what he called media trial of the suspects in the alleged arms deal scandal, insisting that this was the first time such a trial in the media was so pronounced in the country.
He advised that if anybody is accused of any wrong he should be charged to court to face prosecution rather than be tried in the media.
Lagos State Publicity Secretary of the APC, Engr. Joe Igbokwe, believes that the anti-corruption crusade of President Buhari, especially investigation into the $2.1 arms deal, is not targeted at the PDP or any opposition but a way of sanitising the country.
Speaking with Sunday Mirror, Igbokwe said: “Opposition must be real opposition and not band of looters of the common patrimony, not wreckers of Nigeria and not partakers in the destruction of everything we hold dear. PDP can be a real opposition if it chooses to be but you cannot give what you do not have.
“APC is not stopping PDP but it must first of all redeem itself. PDP must re-examine itself and call a spade a spade. PDP needs our help to stand up but it must first of all help itself.”
Source: National Mirror.