Leave Our Party Alone, PDP Governors Warn EFCC
•State chairmen insist political parties are under INEC
•Edo chapter expels Afegbua for anti-party
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to leave their party alone and not turn the anti-graft agency into a witch-hunting tool against opposition political parties.
Similarly, 36 states chairmen of the PDP and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have also advised the EFCC to trade within its limit as venturing into political witch-hunt was outside the constitutional mandate of the anti-graft agency, saying only the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is constitutionally empowered to take up such responsibilities.
This is as the Edo State chapter of the PDP has expelled one of its own, Kazeem Afegbua over allegations of anti-party, more so that he was the one who petitioned the EFCC over finances of the party.
The PDP governors in a statement by the Director General of its secratariat, Cyril Maduabum, said the recent invitation of officials of the PDP by the EFCC acting on a petition by a former member of party raised questions on the seriousness and impartiality of the anti-graft agency to do its work.
The PDP governors said while party as a political entity was accountable to its members and the general public for its actions, “we are, however, concerned that the old tactics of using the EFCC to silence political opposition is creeping into our polity once again. We had expected that the EFCC under a new leadership will learn from the mistakes of its predecessors.
“It is a misplaced priority for EFCC to abandon revelations of monumental fraud by various officials and agencies of the federal government to pursue the PDP, which is the main opposition party doing a yeoman’s job of preventing a descent into chaos and anarchy in Nigeria.
“Perhaps, certain interests in government are worried about the increasingly assertive role the PDP is playing in calling out corruption in government and wants to weaken and silence it,” the PDP governors stated.
The governors noted that even the petition in question did not make a single allegation of misuse of government funds, nor cheating of any individual or public authority by the PDP.
“It is, therefore, surprising that EFCC should use its scarce human and other resources to begin an investigation into PDP finances. If EFCC is even-handed and non-partisan, it should also conduct an investigation into other political parties including APC, the ruling party.
“PDP is up-to-date in making financial returns as required by the Constitution to INEC and we are not aware that INEC made any complaints to EFCC on PDP’s Returns.
“The times are really perilous. We face existential threats as a nation and PDP shouldn’t be distracted from its main role as a political watchdog on behalf of Nigerians,” the statement by the PDP governors stated.
In equal breath, the Forum of PDP State Chairmen, in statement by their spokesman, Hon. Francis Orogu, and chairman, Nassarawa State, said it had taken note of the invitation by the EFCC extended to the national leadership of the PDP and that having consulted among its members, took certain decisions.
“That the monitoring of Political Parties funds is the legal and constitutional duty of INEC and not that of EFCC. That INEC has not raised any issue on the generation and management of the finances of the PDP as a Party. That EFCC has never, to our knowledge, questioned the management of finances of any Political Party in Nigeria.
“That the laws establishing both EFCC and INEC are very clear as to their respective functions. That Nigeria is a Multi-Party Democracy and not a One Party Democracy and that EFCC and indeed all Government Agencies and Institutions should not be involved in anything that will threaten the growth of Democracy in Nigeria.
“That we will not allow any Agency or Institution of Government to tamper with the cherished rights of Nigerians to hold and share their views through identification with any legally and constitutionally recognised association”, the forum said.
The PDP states chairmen, therefore, advised the EFCC to, without delay, terminate this unholy voyage that can only lead the country to doom, advising it also to restrict itself to its core mandate as provided for in its statutes.
According to the PDP state chairmen, “As 2023 draws near, the muzzling of opposition parties by any group of power drunk individuals, who want to perpetuate themselves in office through undemocratic means will be stiffly resisted.
“Finally, the forum stands very firmly behind the national leadership of our great Party, headed by our National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus. Our confidence in the NWC of the party remains solid and unshaken”.
Meanwhile, the PDP in Edo State, in a letter to Secondus, notified the party of the expulsion of Kasim Afrgbua
The party in a statement by the state chairman, Dr. Anthony Azigbine, said the decision to first suspend Afegbua was as a result of his anti-party activities.
The Edo PDP further stated that it invited Afegbua several times to appear before the state disciplinary committee, but he refused hence the decision to expel him for his various anti-party activities.