Tuesday, 26 November 2013
EFCC backs off from G7 governors’ probe
By Ishaya Ibrahim (Lagos) and Rotimi Akinwunmi (Abuja)
• Baraje group weighs options
The Presidency may have begun implementing some of the demands made by members of the breakaway faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who now call themselves the new PDP in order to resolve the crisis that has bedeviled the party.
It has also emerged that despite efforts being made to settle the crisis which has divided the PDP into two factions, the Kawu Baraje-led faction is weighing several options and may move out of the PDP if the matter is not amicably resolved before the race for 2015 general election officially kicks off.
Following last Sunday’s peace meeting between the two warring factions of the PDP, Sunday Independent investigation revealed that one of the demands of the new PDP borders on the ongoing investigation of the seven governors who are members of the group by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
During the week, we got it on good authority that the EFCC has backed off from probe of the G7 governors, apparently acting on directive from above.
The Commission has been investigating all G7 governors and their aides for sundry financial crimes. The governors are: Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano, Aliyu Magatakardan Wamakko of Sokoto, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara and his benefactor, Senator Bukola Saraki, Babangida Aliyu of Niger, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers and Muritala Nyako of Adamawa.
Sources in the EFCC who pleaded to speak only on the condition of anonymity, said the Presidency may have reached out to the Commission to suspend its investigations of these governors.
Top operatives of the anti-graft agency who spoke to Sunday Independent, said before the split in the PDP, the investigation of the G7 governors was a top priority.
According to one source, the governors were being probed for different cases of mismanagement of the resources of their states, but that after last Sunday’s peace meeting, the “case file of the governors have been taken to the coolers.”
But another source at the Commission who also confirmed that all the governors have petitions hanging against them at the EFCC, and disagreed that the Commission had temporarily suspended investigation of the governors.
He said: “We are investigating these governors based on petitions that have been brought against them by different groups and individuals from their states. I assure you no matter what anybody may say; we will get to the root of the issues raised by the petitioners. If they are clean, of course no one will touch them, but if their hands are soiled, they will face the full wrath of the law at the right time.”
However, when Sunday Independent asked for the reaction of the EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwajaren, since the Commission has been dragged into the PDP politics, he said there was nothing to react on. “There is nothing to react on here. It does not have anything to do with it,” he said.
It would be recalled that other demands of the new PDP include the sack of PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur; return of party structures to governors in Adamawa, Rivers, Kano, and other states; agreement by Jonathan not to seek re-election in 2015; resolution of the crises in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Rivers State crises, including the lifting of Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s suspension.
However, most Nigerians have since reacted to their demand, especially the one on EFCC, describing it as “taking politics too far” and trying to bend the laws of the country to suit them.
Meanwhile, Sunday Independent gathered that the leadership of the group has put together a “plan B” in case the elders of the party are unable to resolve the contentious issues which have virtually taken away the peace of the party.
Sources within the new PDP told this newspaper that the leaders of the new PDP are waiting on the courts as well to decide the merit of their complaints against the Tukur-led faction of the party before deciding on what next step to take which probably will be to pull out if the court judgement at the end of the day is not favourable to the Baraje group.
A dependable source within the new PDP told this newspaper in confidence that “the fact remains that as much as we are eager to stay put in PDP, it will not be a do or die affair as we have a lot of other options available to us to be afloat by 2015.
“We have the following options to adopt if we consider that PDP is no longer an option the following options suffices – to team up with any of the existing political parties that will give us the leverage to promote the type of democracy and sustain our nation according to our vision or form a new political party.
“We hope to cross the bridge once we get there.”
However, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, National Publicity Secretary of PDP under the leadership of Baraje while responding to inquiry by this newspaper ruled out the possibility of leaving the PDP for any other party, insisting that the party belongs to them and will do everything possible to take firm control of it once again.
He said members of the party under the leadership of Baraje are the real owners of the party as they were the ones who formed and nurtured it to what it is today.
“Defecting from the party to another one in the face of the current crisis will be an act of cowardice.”
In a telephone chat with this reporter, Eze said, “If you read Governor Sule Lamido’s interview published today (Saturday) in one of the national dailies he stated that he is not ready to leave PDP for scavengers.
“His stand captures our thinking about leaving PDP. Most of us were foundation members of PDP and it will not be fair for any reason to leave a political party we have struggled to build to what it is by today to people who want to frustrate us out of the party.
“This if done, will be cowardice on our side as we are very determined to bring peace to the party not minding the evil machinations and frustration to restore peace by the Tukur’s side.”
He also exhibited a high level of confidence that the Baraje group will be fully in charge of the party as 2015 general election draws nearer, and banished any fear of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) taking sides with the Tukur faction of the party.
According to him, INEC has no option but to follow the law in the case of the struggle for the soul of PDP which he said, the court will soon deliver to the Baraje leadership of the PDP.
“The INEC is a legal institution that must obey the law of the land.
“In this case INEC will abide with what the court says about our case with the Tukur’s faction knowing very well that the party’s convention that brought in the present NWC of Tukur was illegally executed and are bound to be flushed out by a competent court in Nigeria based on facts available to us as no delegates were allowed to vote during the convention.
“So the thinking that INEC will support the Tukur’s faction against us because they are aligned with the President does not hold water.”
He, however, insisted that Tukur should be blamed for the crisis dragging for a long period of time, noting that he remains recalcitrant and unwilling to allow peace reign in the party.