The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of compromising the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in a bid to work against it (PDP).
The opposition party said the “open directive” by the APC to the security agencies to quickly conclude the investigation and prosecution of key opposition leaders before the 2019 elections, has further confirmed that the anti-graft agencies are being tele-guided by the ruling party.
Earlier, the APC urged the EFCC not to relent in its efforts to unravel the truth about the corruption allegations against public officials, especially that of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu
The party also asked the ICPC and other anti-graft bodies to intensify efforts at investigating and recovering public funds and assets that have been stolen by public officials.
The ruling party also said the anti-graft agencies should ensure that it digs up all corruption cases involving politicians, “so that only those that passed the integrity test can offer themselves to contest the 2019 general election”.
However in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP called the attention of Nigerians and the international community to APC’s statement, alleging it was a direct directive to the EFCC to drag Mr Ekweremadu to court on trumped up charges, stampede his prosecution and put him out of circulation before the 2019 elections.
The PDP described as not “a mere coincidence”, the invitation by EFCC to Mr Ekweremadu which was dated July 24, 2018, “the same morning his residence and that of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, were simultaneously besieged by EFCC operatives and policemen, in a failed attempt to illegally impeach them.”
“The series of interference by the APC in the work of the anti-graft agencies, coupled with the August 7, 2018 siege to the National Assembly by the Department of State Security, confirms a sinister plot by the APC led administration not only to arrest and detain Saraki and Ekweremadu to illegally remove them, but also to besmear and destroy the opposition ahead of 2019 general elections.
“Being unable to find Ekweremadu wanting in its many probes, the APC now relies on procured cooked up allegations in a bid to get at him at all cost,” part of the statement read.
The party also said it is not ironical that the APC-led government, “that was quick to explain that a serving military officer bought his Dubai property from his savings, does not think that (Ekweremadu) a former Local Government Chairman, former Chief of Staff to Governor, former Secretary to Enugu State Government, Senator since 2003, Deputy Senate President since 2007, former Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, and owner of a thriving law firm has earned enough legitimate incomes to invest in real estate.”
It, thereafter, rejected the “illegal use of the EFCC and ICPC as political tools by the APC to harass, intimidate and drag down opposition members, in their failed bid to weaken the opposition ahead of the 2019 general elections”
It called on Nigerians to hold the APC and Buhari Presidency responsible, if harm befalls any PDP leader as the 2019 elections appoaches.
Mr Ekweremadu has come under intense public scrutiny as multiple allegations of illicit purchase of posh properties, largely outside Nigerian shores by him feature regularly in the media.
Earlier this year, he was accused of owning properties in the United States, United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, although he regularly denies the allegation.
The Presidential Panel on Recovery of Public Properties said it traced 13 assets to Mr Ekweremadu in those three countries. Efforts aimed at seizing the properties were still on, reports said.
In 2016, he was arraigned before a federal judge in Abuja on allegations that he forged parliament standing rules at the resumption of the current session in June 2015. He also denied these allegations.
Anti-graft detectives appeared to be tightening the noose on Mr Ekweremadu’s activities, in recent weeks.
On July 24, the EFCC sent operatives to surround Mr Ekweremadu’s house in a bid to arrest him. The move was largely deemed controversial, coming simultaneously as Mr Saraki was allegedly being prevented from leaving his residence.
Mr Saraki further accused the Buhari administration of taking desperate and undemocratic measures to thwart his planned defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress.
The operatives were later ordered to stand down, after hours of siege which was met with widespread condemnation.
An EFCC letter later emerged on the same day asking Mr Ekweremadu to turn himself in for questioning over alleged conspiracy, money laundering and other illicit dealings.
Messrs Saraki and Ekweremadu quickly saw the development as a desperate attempt by the Buhari administration to prevent a planned mass defection of lawmakers.
The presidency, however, fiercely rejected claims that President Muhammadu Buhari sanctioned the questionable tactics deployed by his top aides, warning politicians against meddling in the operations of law enforcement authorities.
Mr Ekweremadu’s most recent encounter with the EFCC was on July 31 when he turned himself in at the EFCC office following days of tension between him and operatives working on leads they said suggested a pattern of questionable acquisition of properties within and outside Nigeria.
The politician has denied wrongdoing, accusing the EFCC of being on a witch-hunt to weaken his political stature.