By Lateef Ibrahim Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has told the Federal Government to fight corruption and stop hounding members of the opposition parties.
The party particularly frowned at the Motion Exparte filed by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property seeking the forfeiture of assets allegedly not declared by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, alleging plots to silence the opposition.
The PDP, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, on Thursday, said that while the PDP was in full support of any genuine anti-graft war, the All Progressives Congress (APC) – led administration’s obsession with Ekweremadu was another clear indication that it was not ready to fight corruption, but rather out to scandalize, persecute, and bring down its perceived opponents.
According to the statement, “The PDP recalls that this government rushed to arraign Senator Ekweremadu and the Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki in 2016 on trumped up charges of forgery of Senate Standing Rule, even when there was not even a mention of their names in the contentious police report or Proof of Evidence. It eventually withdrew the charges for lack of merit.
“The police raided and ransacked Senator Ekweremadu’s official guest house in Abuja in May 2017 and blamed it on false whistleblowers, whom they charged to court. Nothing has been heard about the trial of the alleged false whistleblowers again.
“In the current matter, apart from relying on an obsolete law to dabble into the roles of the Code of Conduct Bureau, we are not surprised that the Panel could not carry out a thorough and independent investigation on the purported property of the senator, but relied on a petition by the former Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice Innocent Umezulike, who is standing corruption trial in several courts, after his removal from office by the National Judicial Council (NJC) in 2017.
“We recall that the senator accused Umezulike and some politicians of stealing and doctoring his will, inserting non-existent properties or properties that had nothing to do with him.
“It is also instructive that this calculated smear campaign is in the guise of forfeiture of phantom assets which came on the heels of Senator Ekweremadu’s alarm and scathing criticism of the APC-led administration over the nation’s deteriorating democracy and in the midst of the ongoing executive-legislature faceoff, in which a ranking senator of the APC extraction identified Ekweremadu as a pillar of support to the Senate President”.
The PDP said that contrary to the Federal Government’s claims, Senator Ekweremadu had assured it that he declared his assets.
It wondered why the Federal Government, by its own admission, rushed to court without completion of investigation, but had turned deaf ears to the outcry by Nigerians for the prosecution of the administration’s functionaries and friends indicted of corruption.
It stressed further, “This government and party have a wet appetite for prosecution and media trial of the opposition while investigation is on, but refuses to prosecute its members and friends indicted by even its own presidential or ministerial panels.
“While members of the opposition are taken to court on stretchers, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Engr. Babachir Lawal, indicted by both the Senate and a presidential panel only got a pat on the back.
“The APC Federal Government has failed to prosecute those involved in the Ikoyigate scandal, and the recall of fugitive Abdulrasheed Maina, among others.
“Ekweremadu is a major symbol of the opposition. We believe that this is part of the grand plan to strangulate the PDP ahead of the 2019 elections and we will resist” it added.
The PDP further alleged that Ekweremadu’s travail was part of the grand plan to strangulate the opposition ahead of 2019 election and challenged the Federal Government to publish the assets of APC political office holders.
“Now that the Federal Government has gleefully inundated the public with the imaginary assets of the Deputy Senate president, can it now also publish the full assets of the President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo, cabinet ministers and APC governors, who have all failed to make public their assets as promised during the 2015 election”.