The Peoples Democratic Party, on Thursday, accused the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government of destroying the independence of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.
The PDP said the EFCC and ICPC were created during its 16-year reign to curb the menace of corruption in the country.
The party said this in a statement by its Head of Publicity Department, Mrs. Chinwe Nnorom.
But the APC, the Special Assistant to the President on Prosecutions, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla; and the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), berated the PDP for saying that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration destroyed the independence of the anti-graft agencies.
The statement said the PDP, which was established on August 31, 1998, had remained the only viable, prosperous and most visionary political party in Nigeria.
The PDP statement by Nnorom stated, “(The) PDP administration established two major anti-corruption agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to curb the menace of corruption in the country.
“These efforts reduced corrupt practices and further increased the confidence of foreign investors that resulted in huge investment inflows into the country.
“The APC-led government of today has destroyed the independence of these agencies with their selective approach of using ‘deodorants’ when APC members are involved and ‘insecticides’ when it concerns the PDP members and other Nigerians.”
The statement said the PDP therefore remained the best political party in Nigeria.
It therefore appealed to Nigerians to return the former ruling party to power in 2019, saying it had learnt from its past mistakes.
The PDP stated that the chairman of the party’s National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, congratulated members and supporters of the former ruling party on the achievement.
“As s a human organisation, there might have been some issues or areas we could not cover when we were governing. We promise to make amends as and when given the opportunity again in 2019,” the statement added.
The former ruling party believes Nigerians have not forgotten the enormous infrastructural developments, policies and programmes developed by it in contrast to the current APC-led government.
It added, “The PDP no doubt, initiated several reforms that transformed the country from the decay of long years of military dictatorship/failed civilian administration and never resorted to self- pity, blame and propaganda as it’s seen today.
“For the record, in 1999 the image of Nigeria internationally was in a deplorable state with very poor human rights records. The PDP took conscious steps to change that perception and within a very short period, it restored the country to its pride of place among the comity of nations. We promise to do it again come 2019.”
It recalled how former President Olusegun Obasanjo “worked diligently with other western powers to settle all our foreign debts accumulated by the military, thereby detaching Nigeria’s economy from the burden.
The PDP noted that Nigeria’s unity remained the core principle of the founding fathers, saying throughout the 16 years of the PDP government, the party took deliberate actions to sustain and maintain this principle by building bridges across the nation.
This, it said, could not be said of the APC-led administration given its alleged lopsided appointments, which it argued had aggravated the agitations for self-determination and secession by some sections of the country.
The PDP, however, declared that the party would not support such agitations.
But, the APC challenged the PDP to first disprove allegations of billions of naira and other foreign currencies recovered from members of the former ruling party by the EFCC.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, stated this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Thursday.
Abdullahi stated, “Instead of saying our party has destroyed EFCC’s independence, they should contradict the billions of naira, dollars and pounds recovered from its members who held positions of authority in the past. It is when they provide evidence that this is not true that we can talk.
“If they want to lay any claim to moral superiority, they should refute evidence adduced by the EFCC about the recovery so far made, then, we can talk.
“Let them challenge the verdict of a competent court of our land which recently ordered the permanent forfeiture of property and billions of naira in cash belonging to Diezani Alison- Madueke (former minister of petroleum resources).
“If they can successfully challenge all these, then, they can speak. As for them returning to power, Nigerians are now wiser.”
Speaking in a similar vein, a Second Republic member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, described the PDP statement as “reckless and irresponsible and lacking any empirical evidence.”
He noted that even though it was evident that the EFCC could do better with better attention and support from Buhari, the anti-graft body had not lost any serious thing under this government to justify the PDP’s gloating.
Mohammed added, “The PDP ought to shut up and spare Nigerians. I don’t believe that the EFCC has lost anything under this administration. When the EFCC started, frankly speaking, both Nuhu Ribadu and Ibrahim Lamorde had their challenges. President Obasanjo was in the habit of conniving with them to achieve his aims.
“This is not to say that the attitude and the management of the ecolomy between the EFCC and the current administration is what it ought to be.
“Sometimes, you have to give political direction to some of these agencies. And of course, you have to assure them that you will be with them should they get into trouble; that has not been the attitude of the Buhari Presidency.”
Claim is nonsensical, says Presidential aide
Also, Obono-Obla, in an interview with The PUNCH on Thursday, described the PDP’s claim as “nonsensical”.
He said contrary to the opposition party’s claim, the EFCC had become more efficient under the current administration.
He argued that the independence of the EFCC was completely eroded under the PDP government to the extent that the anti-corruption agency was unable to charge any politically-exposed person under former President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Obono-Obla described the PDP government as “chronically and scandalously corrupt” to the extent that “a minister was able to steal the equivalent of the allocation of 19 northern states in four years.”
He explained that neither Buhari nor those connected to the President interfered with the activities of the anti-graft agencies.
The President’s aide added that the APC-led government had charged “very prominent, highly influential and highly connected politically-exposed persons” with various offences.
Obono-Obla added, “The claim by PDP is nonsensical. It is hogwash and balderdash.
“The PDP does not have any argument because since the APC government came on board, the EFCC has become so efficient.
“In the first quarter of this year, the EFCC secured more than 200 convictions and recovered over N400bn.
“How much was recovered by the EFCC when the PDP was in government or when Goodluck Jonathan was in office?
“The independence of the EFCC was completely eroded to the extent that no politically-exposed person was charged to court. But we can see that they have charged very prominent, highly influential and highly connected politically-exposed persons, which is unprecedented in the history of Nigeria.
“So, the PDP does not know what it’s talking about.
“Talk about the ICPC, it has recovered billions of naira. The ICPC has also secured the conviction of many politically-exposed persons.
“The PDP should shut up. The PDP was chronically and scandalously corrupt to the extent that one minister stole the equivalent of the allocations of 19 northern states in four years.
“Up to $20bn was unaccounted for. The foreign reserves were deflated. The late President (Umaru) Yar’Adua left $48bn in the foreign reserves; all the money was deflated.
“So what is the PDP talking about? We don’t interfere, the President does not interfere and the people connected to the President do not interfere with EFCC’s activities, unlike when the agency ceased to function under the PDP government.”