Alleges threats to life
Afegbua is a rumour monger, a clown, PDP replies
By Dirisu Yakubu
Former Edo State Commissioner of Information, Prince Kassim Afegbua, Wednesday, reiterated his commitment to have the finances of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, audited in line with the party’s pursuit of transparency and accountability in governance.
This is as the Okpella, Edo State-born politician, a member of the party said national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus must account for the revenue generated through the sales of nomination forms and donations from PDP members since the Secondus-led National Working Committee assumed office in 2017.
Vanguard reports that Afegbua earlier in the week, stormed the Abuja headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, with a petition urging the two anti-graft agencies to compel the PDP chairman to account for the sum of N10 billion which in the words of the former commissioner, was realised from the sales of nomination forms for the 2019 general elections.
Although Afegbua’s claims were punctured by Kola Ologbondiyan, spokesman of the PDP who insisted that the sum of N4.6 billion, not N10 billion was realised by the party and added that the audited account of the PDP had been submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC; Afegbua, at a press conference in Abuja, Wednesday, alleged threats to his life adding that since his visit to the anti-graft commissions, he has received sundry threatening messages from people pledging to deal with him.
He vowed to force the hands of the commissions to do the needful in the event of failing to investigate Secondus, saying he would seek legal redress at a court of competent jurisdiction.
On why he wants his party chairman probed, Afegbua said: “Without fear of contradiction, I am aware that the party’s leadership has been involved in money laundering for failure to follow what the law prescribes. Having consulted with my lawyers,
“I wish to state more emphatically that any monetary transaction that is above the threshold of N10million must pass through financial institution for ease of tracing and monitoring. And such bank account must be the ones owned by the party, and not that of persons or group of persons that purport to act on behalf of the party.
“The leadership only needs to volunteer the EFCC and ICPC such information, once the investigation begins, to assist the agencies to arrive at a holistic conclusion.
“Since Monday, when I submitted a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, I have been inundated with several telephone calls by party chieftains, pundits and lackeys alike with a mixed grill.
“While majority of those callers are commending my bold resolve at ensuring transparency in the management of the finances of the PDP, a handful of others tried to subtly intimidate me with threats alarm,” he said even as he pledged to “follow through this present request to a logical conclusion to serve as a worthy caution note to those aspiring to occupy party positions.”
Reminded that the party’s audited account according to Ologbondiyan is now before INEC, Afegbua insisted that he is not impressed. “I did not ask the PDP to give me its concocted audited report or a balance sheet that would seem to suggest that all is well. I have simply asked the anti-graft agencies to look into the records of book-keeping with respect to the resources that have accrued, to find out if the leadership had followed standard procedure of accounting practice.
He continued: “The leadership only needs to volunteer the EFCC and ICPC such information, once the investigation begins, to assist the agencies to arrive at a holistic conclusion. I am calling on the EFCC and ICPC to take judicious note on the account numbers and companies, which were allegedly used as conduit to launder money against the run of play.
“The above companies need to be properly scrutinised by the anti-graft agencies to establish the role they play in the financial flow of PDP finances, with respect to sale of nomination forms during the last general elections in 2019. I am sure the persons involved would be able to volunteer information required to properly situate the meat of the matter before the EFCC and ICPC.”
He vowed not to take the threats lowly saying, “I have respectfully instructed my lawyers, Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law, to petition the Inspector General of Police, on this very serious threat, especially in a country that is replete with murder, assassination and blood-letting. My resolve to pursue this petition to a logical conclusion is unequivocal. I will neither submit to blackmail, intimidation, harassment, nor deliberate threat for whatever purpose. If your hands are clean, why are you panicking?”
Responding, Ologbondiyan described Afegbua as a clown who “is fishing in the ocean of rumour noting that the sum of N4.6 billion “was presented to the National Working Committee, NWC and also presented to all other organs of the party and to the final authority on expenditure which is the National Executive Committee, NEC, for approval and this was given to the NWC. So we don’t know where Afegbua is coming from on the allegation of N10 billion. We are waiting as a party for the facts that he has and for the documents that he will present to back up his allegations”
He questioned the loci standi of the former Commissioner to inquire of the party’s finances, saying, “at the national secretariat, we believe the membership of Afegbua is suspect. We don’t think that he is truly a member of our party.
“If you follow the trajectory of Kassim Afegbua in politics, you will recall that he was a onetime Commissioner in the administration of the former chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. Thereafter, he claimed to have left the APC to join the PDP.
“He was appointed because he worked with a particular Presidential aspirant and after the convention in Port Harcourt, all the aspirants dissolved their campaign structures and as a result of that, he found himself in the campaign structure of the candidate that emerged, which is the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
“We had an election in Edo, Afegbua’s home state. He left the PDP to work with Adam Oshiomhole and Osagie Ize-Iyamu in the APC and took an open position. On account of that, he was suspended from his ward. That was the last we heard of him until these allegations started,” he added.
He dismissed Afegbua’s criticisms of the Secondus-led NWC, noting that “the same leadership he said is not virile or not performing followed him to Edo State, picked a candidate for an election and he stood on the other side and his side was crushed in the election. Assuming Ize-Iyamu won that election, would Kassim have come back to the PDP, not to talk of assessing its leadership?
“We have a structured way of conducting our affairs in the PDP. The national convention of the PDP will hold in December, 2021. If he feels very strongly against the current leadership, he can go and pick form to contest any office if he is a member of our party.
“He also has the liberty to campaign even against the entire leadership if he chooses to. His actions amount to crashing the party and this is the same party from which he has benefited; the same leadership from which he has benefitted. Just because you wanted something at a particular time and you could not achieve it, you must bring down the house?” he queried.
He further described the companies named by Afegbua to have links with the PDP as ghostly, stressing that they are “ghost companies that the party has no business with.”
Meanwhile, Afegbua said his suspension lasted for a month and came to an end on September 2, 2020.