The Presidency has advised the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to first sack its incumbent governors and senators undergoing trials in courts in order to have a moral ground to talk on corruption allegation against the governorship candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
The PDP had on Friday described the endorsement of Ize-Iyamu by President Muhammadu Buhari as an act that encouraged corruption.
The party also condemned the presentation of flag to the APC candidate in the Presidential Villa, Abuja, saying action validated its position that the Buhari administration is fighting perceived opponents and not corruption.
A statement by PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Mr. President ought to have been aware that Ize-Iyamu is standing trial over allegations of corruption, in addition to declaration by his party’s former national chairman that the APC candidate is a treasury looter, who should not be trusted with the position of the governor of Edo state.
“The presentation of flag to a person standing trial on allegation of corruption right in the Villa has shown to the world that APC is indeed the headquarters of corruption.”
Reacting, a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, asked the PDP to either keep quiet or withdraw the governorship nominations it gave to Ahmadu Fintiri and Bala Mohammed of Adamawa and Bauchi States respectively who were actually on bail from criminal trial on several counts of fraud and embezzlement.
Shehu said “a party which 16 years in office destroyed the country’s economy and infrastructure has no moral authority to criticize the accelerated infrastructure development drive, largely drawing its energy from the Buhari anti-corruption campaign.
He added that “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.”
The presidential aide, who said the clean-up drive by the President Buhari administration would only speed up with the ongoing investigations and trials, added that the current administration’s cleansing exercise of the government, politics and economy in line with the zero tolerance for corruption, would not be distracted.
The statement titled ‘President Buhari on Ize-Iyamu: To Be Taken Seriously, PDP Must Sack Its Governors and Senators’ read: “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.
“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.”