ByÂ Dayo Benson,Â Henry Umoru & Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, has assigned the case of alleged N104 million corruption charges against the National Chairman ofÂ the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP,Â Prince VincentÂ Ogbulafor, to Justice I.U. BelloÂ of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, for trial even as a member ofÂ the party’s Board of Trustees, BOT, Senator Onyeabo Obi, confirmed moves by some forces within the party to remove Ogbulafor.
However, the 36 states chairmen of the party, Wednesday, stormed the Wadata Plaza secretariat of the party in Abuja to protest plots to remove Ogbulafor.
Speaking to Vanguard on telephone, Wednesday,Â Senator Obi said: â€œIt is a natural juggling of political forces and I think itâ€™s going to play itself out. You know that this is time forÂ mini- convention and at every convention, every political force tries to move against party officials they are not well disposed to or who is against their interests. You knowÂ the position is zoned to the South-East and all those who contested in 2008 were from the area.Â It is a normal thing and it depends on how far they can go.â€
The party chairmen, under the aegis of Conference of PDP State Chairmen, yesterday, stormed the party’s headquarters with a vow to stop moves to remove Ogbulafor.
Meanwhile, Ogbulafor, who appealed to God to touch the hearts of the anti-Ogbulafor group, stressed that no amount of temptation, distractions will make the leadership of the party shift grounds, adding, â€œWe want to assure you that no amount of distraction can stop us, this is a party that has vowed to lead this nation and to support the acting president and our governors and the National Assembly to deliver democratic dividends to the people who have elected us.â€
In a statementÂ signed by the protem Chairman, Emmanuel Agbo, Secretary, Bola Olu-Ojo and the Vice-Chairman, David Umahi, and read to newsmen,Â Olu-Ojo, also the Ekiti State of the party, noted that the backing had the support of all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Ogbulafor, while receiving the chairmen in his office, said,Â â€œtoday (yesterday) is Wednesday we are supposed to meet, you can see that we are all seated when you came into my office. I didnâ€™t know you were around. But we are happy to know that you are solidly behind the working committee of this great party.
InÂ the case against Ogbulafor by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, the trial Judge is expected to fix a dateÂ this week to enable ICPC to serve all the parties involved in the suit with the necessary court processes.
The anti-graft agency is seeking leave of court to arrest and arraign Ogbulafor over the alleged roles he played in the diversion of N104 millionÂ belonging to the Federal Government in 2001.
In a 16-count criminal charge entered against them at the high court registry by the Principal Legal Officer of ICPC, Mr. Paul Ahmed Bassi, it was alleged that Ogbulafor, while in office as the Minister of State for Special Duties in 2001, connived with the other accused persons to float three fictitious companies, with which they perpetuated the fraud.
His accomplices, according to ICPC were Mr.Emeka Ebiulah, Henry Ikoh, Jude Nwokoro and Emmanuel C. Bosah.
They were alleged to have used Henrichiko Nig. Ltd, DHL Consultants and Chekwas Industries, to siphon N82.6m, N11.5m and N6.2m respectively, in 2001.
The PDP Chairman was specifically alleged to have used his position as the head of National Economic Intelligence Committee, NEIC, set-up to verify debts owed local contractors, to okay as genuine, several forged documents.
He was alleged to have relied on the forged documents to certify that the three fake companies successfully executed jobs worth N104m. He was alleged to have collected kick-backs of N2m and N28m from Ebiulah and one Chris Nwoke respectively.