Soni Daniel, Abuja
The Presidential Candidate of the Action Democratic Congress (ADC), Mr. Dumebi Kachikwu, has dismissed allegations of tax evasion and fraud made against him as untrue, baseless and politically motivated.
Kachikwu’s clarification followed an online report which alleged that a United States of America’s court had ordered the confiscation of his property over tax evasion and that he had earlier been indicted for fraud in the past and therefore not a first time offender.
But Kachikwu on Wednesday blamed his political opponents for smear campaign against him being launched against him.
Kachukwu said: “Yesterday, I was inundated with calls and messages over a libellous and defamatory publication by an online blog known as Peoples Gazette.
“The publication not only accused me of tax evasion but also accused me of delivering cash bribes to former US Congressman. These are untrue. Here are the facts of the matter:
“A few days ago, my campaign team received information that one of the aspirants who lost out in the just concluded ADC presidential primaries was planning a series of smear campaigns against me.
“I was therefore not surprised when I saw this story yesterday. Contrary to the information being peddled, I was assessed an additional $9million several years ago by the US Inland Revenue Service (IRS).
“This amount was reduced to $2million and when the IRS sued to collect the amount, my lawyers didn’t contest it and instead waited for a default judgement in order to go to the next stage which is making an offer in compromise to reduce the amount to be paid.
“This is a standard legal practice in tax matters. People’s Gazette also claimed I was not a first-time offender having been previously indicted in a fraud case in 2009.
“He claimed I had delivered a $100,000 cash bribe to curry the favour of the former US congressman.
“This is another lie as multiple evidence abounds online clearly showing I was the victim who reported the US congressman to the EFCC and the FBI for defrauding my company.
“The publisher of this infamous blog intentionally stood truth on its head in order to achieve a predetermined objective.
“In a series of coordinated attacks they aggressively disseminated this story through various medium to damage and tarnish my image.
“I have now instructed my lawyers to sue all digital media organisations who participated in the dissemination of this falsehood.
“They will also petition the police to arrest and prosecute all those who have breached the Cybercrime Act by using twitter to defame, harass and threaten me. I will no longer tolerate this persistent attacks from sore losers.”
On how he won as the presidential candidate of the ADC, Kachikwu denied inducing any of the delegates to vote for him, saying that he thought he had lost the election and had prepared his concession speech only to emerge as the winner.
He said, “I thought I was going to lose that election. I had other aspirants around me and I was typing my concession speech, promising my allegiance to my party. I thought I was going to lose the election because I was not prepared to pay any delegate. It was funny that the same people who paid delegates are same people denigrating the process that produced me.”
Kachikwu expressed optimism that he would win the 2023 general election even though his party has not been very frequent in the news like other major parties.
According to him, “this is a long distance race. It is not a sprint. It is not about who is in the news about this time. Nigerians will have the opportunity to assess all the candidates in the next eight months.
“You will hear all the aspirants talk about issues but you never hear them talk about solutions to those problems. They will speak on how Nigeria has failed in education, health, security and others but you will never hear them tell you their solutions to those problems and how they will go about getting those solutions. Nigerians will hear all the candidates. Nobody will be hoodwinked this time.
On this possibility of merging with other political parties, Kachikwu said it is too early to speak on that, pointing out that his party has a clear vision for Nigeria.
“We are willing to work with any and everyone who aligns with that vision. Politically, it is naïve for anyone to talk about merger or alliance at this point. Down the line when people have assessed their strengths before the electorate, people will know what is good for them and then, people can start talking about merger and the rest. For now, it is too early.”
On the problem of vote buying and how to manage that at the general election, he called for media advocacy to educate electorates. He urged electorate to vote their conscience even when attempt to bribe them.