The anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has summoned some members of the National Executive Council of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to appear before it over allegation of engaging graft.
Those summoned to appear before the EFCC include the National Auditor, Mallam Adamu Mustapha, National Organizing Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (Rtd) and Director of Finance of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The action might not be unconnected to a petition sent to the anti-graft agency by a member, Prince Kassim Afegbua who accused the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus of embezzling the sum of N10 billion being proceeds of nomination forms from 2017.
The summon was contained in a letter signed by the Commission’s Head of Operations, Mr. Michael Welkes, dated 17th May 2021, addressed to Secondus.
Captioned “Investigation Activities, Letter of Investigation/Request for Information”, the letter reads in part, “The Commission is investigating an alleged case of criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud in which the need to obtain certain clarification from your party has become imperative.
“In view of the above, you are requested to kindly release the under Iisted officers of your party to attend an interview with the undersigned on the below scheduled dates, at Economic Governance, Section 2, EFCC Headquarters, 2nd floor, Plot 301 & 302, Institution and Research District, Jabi, Abuja by 1000 hours”
According to the letter, the National Auditor is expected to appear on the 19th while the National Organising Secretary and Director of Finance will appear on the 20th and 21st respectively.
In a leaked memo, the National Auditor had raised some concerns over the Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee (NWC), alleging that he mismanaged N10 billions generated by the party from the sales of nomination forms.
The National Auditor alleged that his office was denied access to all the party’s financial books since 2017.
“The purpose of this alarm is to bring to the notice of this NWC the inability of the Audit Department to perform its functions as enshrined by the constitution and the extant laws, to illustrate as example, the Audit Department was incapacitated by lack of access to the necessary inputs that will enable it to discharge its duties.
“For whatever reasons, there is no access to all financial transactions (cash inflows and outflows) documents of the party like cashbooks, receipts. vouchers, registers cheques and bank statements etc, all of which are necessary input or pre-audit, due process, internal control, reconciliation as well as to draw up our Final Accounts, and all these necessary inputs are not available to the Audit Department.
“In order for the Audit to function there should be constant interaction and information flow between the Audit Department and all the arms of the party, unfortunately this has not been the practice”.
But Secondus had denied any form of financial infraction during his regime.
In a statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, he debunked the use of proxy and other third party accounts to syphon the party’s resources.
According to him, the party realised N4.6 billion from the sale of nomination forms in 2019 and not N10 billion as alleged by Afegbua and that the PDP had submitted its audited account for the year to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as required by law.
Ologbondiyan said: “The PDP did not raise Afegbua’s fictitious sum of N10 billion as alleged by him. For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP generated the sum of N4.6 billion and raised a budget for its expenditure, in line with all known financial regulations of our party.
“This budget passed through the organs of our party and received the approvals from the NWC (National Working Committee), the Governors’ Forum, the Board of Trustees as well as other organs of the party.
“Moreover, the PDP has no account under the name or guise of Afegbua’s ghostly Morufu Nigeria Limited.”
Secondus also in another letter from Emeka Etiaba Chambers and addressed to Afegbua through his counsel, Kayode Ajulo and Co. demanded the sum of N1billion from Afegbua within 48 hours as well as retraction of the allegation in some national dailies and online medium failureto which he will be sued for libel.
Also debunking the leaked memo, PDP auditor dismissed the report, describing it as outright falsehood.
He said: “My attention has been brought to misleading reports in a section of the media on the memo I presented to the NWC for deliberation.
“To say the least, I am shocked that the routine memo can be so mischievously misrepresented in the media ostensibly to achieve a sinister purpose against our party.
“For the avoidance of doubt, all the issues raised in the memo were exhaustively deliberated in the NWC meeting. The deliberation was conclusive because, on all the items raised, approvals were sought and granted by both the NWC and the National Executive Committee, NEC, of our great party.
“l want to state clearly that I did not make any allegations of any form of financial impropriety against the national chairman neither did I allege any form of a misdemeanour on any member of the NWC.
“The NWC is not divided as we are working in the collective interest of our party. I urge the media to always crosscheck all the facts in a matter before going to press to avoid misleading the reading public,” he stated.