As PDP accuses Presidency of corruption on MTN fine
By Dirisu Yakubu
National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, has chided Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for what he described as unconcealed bias in its execution of the anti-corruption war in the country.
This is even as PDP, yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to clear the air over allegations of corruption that reportedly pervaded the fine recently imposed on MTN Nigeria.
But the EFCC in a swift reaction by spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, challenged the PDP chairman to provide names of contractors being allegedly harassed by the commission.
Secondus said the recent arrest and harassment of contractors handling projects in only PDP-controlled states, has exposed the anti-graft agency as doing the bidding of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The PDP boss in a statement signed by his media adviser, Ike Abonyi, said the EFCC had deployed its operatives to intimidate and harass contractors handling various projects in some PDP states, with the motive of frustrating their project goals, which had visibly placed them far ahead of their colleagues in APC-controlled states.
He expressed regrets “that the commission has remained beclouded in its bias” and has refused to heed the advice from well-meaning Nigerians and international watchers, including the recent one from the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright, not to take sides with any political party, ahead of the 2019 general election.”
Secondus quoted Mr. Arkwright as saying: “INEC and EFCC should be there to preserve the integrity of the political process, including taking investigations without prejudice on one side or the other.”
PDP accuses Presidency of corruption on MTN fine
Meanwhile, PDP has urged President Buhari to clear the air over allegations of corruption that reportedly pervaded the fine recently imposed on MTN Nigeria.
In October 2015, the telecom regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, imposed a fine of N1.04 trillion on MTN Nigeria for not complying with government’s rule on deactivation of unregistered SIM cards.
The fine was also imposed on MTN for not disconnecting about 5.1 million improperly registered lines on its network within the stipulated deadline.
After several appeals and negotiations, including diplomatic interventions by the South African government, the fine was reduced to N330 billion out of which NCC said MTN had paid N165 billion.
The PDP, however, said President Buhari and his administration have a lot of questions to answer on how the fine was reduced to N330 billion.
It said this was also in the face of allegations that certain interests in the Presidential Villa, “close to President Buhari,” allegedly took a bribe of N500 million before the reduction was approved.
The party also said it doubted the decision of the federal government to approve N500 million from the same fund, under what it called “controversial claims” of professional fees to unnamed persons for unspecified services.
According to by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, the Federal Executive Council, presided over by President Buhari, on Wednesday approved the payment of N500 million to the lawyers who reportedly worked for the recovery of the fine imposed on MTN.
“It is, to say the least, disgusting that while this allegation of bribery at the Villa has remained uncleared by the Presidency, President Buhari, the same African Union (AU) Anti-Corruption Champion, on Wednesday, approved the frittering of another N500 million from the same fund, under controversial claims of professional fees to unnamed persons for unspecified services,” PDP said.
The PDP said as a government which prides itself as fighting corruption, “it is expected of Mr. President to clear the air on the sordid allegation of bribery in the Presidential Villa rather than progressing in that direction.
“President Buhari has continued to act as if the demand by Nigerians, to know the truth about the alleged bribery in the villa over the payment of MTN fine, does not matter.
“The PDP challenges President Buhari to come out clear on the basis for the purported N500 million professional fee. What due process instruments did he rely upon?
‘’Who are these lawyers? Who contracted them; under what terms and what services did they render that was beyond the Attorney-General of the Federation and the team of lawyers at the Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC, and the Ministry of Justice?
“Now that it has become clear that the Buhari Presidency is entangled in sleazes over the MTN fine saga. The PDP charges President Buhari to end his concealment of corruption in the villa and show his sincerity by allowing an open inquest into his administration’s dealings on the MTN fine payment.”