The crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) between some governors of the party and its National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, took another turn over the weekend as the Department of State Services (DSS) reportedly detained and interrogated Oshimhole.
Newsmen gathered yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari, who was not aware of the DSS’ action, has ordered an immediate probe of the matter, while the party is said to be considering appropriate sanctions against some of its governors accused of being behind the plot.
In the past three weeks, Oshiomhole has been engaged in a war of words with Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and his Ogun State counterpart, Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
The two governors have openly criticised the party chairman for rejecting their anointed candidates, Uche Nwosu and Hon. Abdulkabir Akinlade, to succeed them in Imo and Ogun states, respectively.
It was gathered yesterday that the two governors are seen as the masterminds of Oshiomhole’s ordeal.
The APC national chairman, an online newspaper, TheCable, yesterday, reported, was grilled by DSS operatives for nine hours on Sunday after some APC governors alleged that he received bribes during the recently held primary elections of the party.
The paper further reported that Oshiomhole was asked to resign during interrogation, but he resisted, saying he would only do so if he loses the confidence of President Buhari, who was in the know of all actions he took during the party’s primaries.
When contacted, National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lanre Issa-Onilu and spokesperson of the DSS, said they were not aware of the arrest and quizzing of Oshiomhole.
However, a top aide to the APC national chairman, exclusively told our correspondent that he (Oshiomhole) was quizzed by operatives of the DSS.
“Yes, he was invited by the DSS, questioned and detained for hours with the operatives asking him to resign his position as chairman of the ruling party, which he objected to,” the source said.
He blamed Okorocha and Amosun for Oshiomhole’s ordeal, while revealing that the APC national chairman, after conferring with President Buhari on the matter, travelled out of the country on Tuesday.
According to the aide, the two governors are still embittered over the outcome of the APC’s governorship primaries in which their preferred aspirants lost. They had claimed that Oshiomhole used his position as the national chairman of the party to shut out their anointed candidates.
It would be recalled that the Oshiomhole-led APC National Working Committee (NWC), at the weekend, submitted the name of Senator Hope Uzodinma to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the governorship candidate of the party in Imo State as against Okorocha’s son-in-law, Nwosu, while in Ogun State, it was Prince Dapo Abiodun as against Akinlade, who is Amosun’s choice.
A party source, who further confirmed the claim by Oshiomhole’s aide, told New Telegraph that the APC national chairman’s invitation by the DSS on Sunday, shortly after he returned to Abuja from his village in Edo State, was orchestrated by Okorocha and Amosun, acting in cahoots with an APC governor from a Northern.
According to the source, the governors took the step after they failed to mobilise the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to pass a no confidence vote in Oshiomhole.
His words: “When the move for a no confidence vote failed, the aggrieved governors decided to procure the services of the DSS to force Oshiomhole to write and sign a letter of resignation, which would have ended his chairmanship of the party.
“He was grilled for about six hours during which he was confronted with unsubstantiated allegations that he collected bribes to predetermine the outcomes of the recent APC’s primary elections. But, Oshiomhole rebuffed the pressure by the DSS interrogators to make him write his resignation letter.
“The former labour leader insisted that he would not acquiesce in their request unless he had discussed with President Buhari, whose name the DSS interrogators dropped in the course of the questioning. He told the DSS interrogators point blank that he would rather die than to cave in to their pressure for him to resign a position that the party vested in him at the national convention.”
Besides Buhari, Newsmen further learnt that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, were also piqued by the action of Governors Okorocha and Amosun.
Sources close to them said they described their action as an affront to the presidency and the APC leadership.
It was also gathered that an APC governor of one of the North-West states is mobilising other Northern governors to support Oshiomhole. The move is said to be a response to the subtle threats by Okorocha and Amosun to rock the boat of the party as well as to work against Buhari in their respective states during the 2019 presidential election.
A former national vice chairman of the party, who said he heard of Oshiomhole’s arrest, but couldn’t confirm it, warned the party’s leadership against the danger of forcing the national chairman to resign his position.
“This is trouble signal for the party because it is happening at a time when everyone is running around to see how we can put our house in order ahead of the election,” he said.
While efforts to get Amosun to react to the allegation was unsuccessful last night as one of his media aides, who promised to get back to our correspondent failed to do so, Chief Press Secretary to Okorocha, Sam Onwuemedo, said the governor would respond to the claim at the appropriate time.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, who denied arrest of Oshiomhole by the DSS, told journalists at the party secretariat in Abuja that the national chairman was in his office on Monday and Tuesday before he travelled Tuesday evening.
He explained that Oshiomhole ought to have travelled before this time, but severally postponed his travel because of the submission of the party’s list of candidates for the general elections to INEC.
“The party is not aware of any arrest and quizzing of its national chairman. He was in office on Monday and Tuesday before he travelled on Tuesday evening. We wait to hear from the National Chairman on the report, but as I speak to you, no such report of his arrest and grill is before us,” Issa-Onilu.
DSS Public Relations Officer, Mr. Peter Nnochiri, who also denied knowledge of Oshiomhole’s arrest, in a terse reply to a text message requesting the official position of the agency on the matter, said: “I’m not aware of this.”
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as reprehensible, revelations that the Buhari presidency is concealing alleged bribery and corrupt practices involving the APC national chairman.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said it was privy to the pressure on the DSS to let Oshiomhole off the hook for fears that his investigation would unearth the complicity of the presidency and other key members of the APC in the scam.
PDP said: “Information available to the PDP reveal that apart from the billions of naira he allegedly stole from the coffers of Edo State when he was governor, Oshiomhole is facing charges of allegedly collecting billions of naira bribe from some ministers and other APC sources in Adamawa, Rivers, Kano and Imo states to manipulate the 2019 electoral process.
“This is in addition to allegedly collecting billions of naira from presidency sources to influence electoral officers, independent observers and certain polling organisations ahead of the 2019 election, part of which was allegedly diverted for personal use of some APC leaders.
“The PDP had always alerted Nigerians of the corruption allegation burden on the APC chairman and the continued official cover provided for him by the Buhari presidency, including stalling his investigation and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged stealing of billions of naira from Edo State coffers.
“If the Buhari presidency has nothing to hide; if it is not complicit in the alleged scam, it should allow the DSS and EFCC a free hand to investigate and prosecute his party’s factional chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, particularly now that all issues are laid bare before Nigerians.
“As long as the DSS and the EFCC are not allowed to put Oshiomhole into the dock, the Buhari presidency does not have the moral rectitude to speak on corruption. This is especially as the involvement of the DSS shows that the corruption burden of the APC chairman has already become a security risk for our nation.
“Finally, the PDP cautions that under no circumstance should the presidency escort Adams Oshiomhole out of the country, just like it did for the disgraced Buhari’s former Minister of Finance.”
Kaduna: PDP governorship candidate, Ashiru kick-start campaign
The governorship candidate of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Kaduna State, Alhaji Isa Ashiru, kick-started his campaign at the International Trade Fair Complex, today.
Party supporters trooped to the venue, literarily blocking the Kaduna-Zaria highway which resulted in stranded commuters.
Speaking on the occasion, Ashiru said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State has failed and urged the people to vote out Governor Nasir el-Rufai in the forth coming election.
He called on the people to ensure that they come out enmass to vote for the PDP at all levels to return the state and the country to the path of sanity and progress.
Ashiru also condemned the Kaduna State government for alleged indiscriminate sacking of civil servants and teachers and promised that if elected, he would set up a committee to review the cases of the sacked workers with the view of reinstating those whose appointments were unjustly terminated.
“I want all of you to ensure that you keep your voters cards safely. Your voter’s card is your power.
“Civil servants, teachers, where are you? We are assuring you, If we are voted into power, we will set up a committee to review the sacking of all teachers and civil servants by the APC government in Kaduna State.
“Those who were unjustly sacked would be reinstated. Therefore, I urged you not to bother.”
Also speaking, the National Chairman of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), Alhaji Buba Galadima, declared that the APC government has brought hunger, poverty and insecurity on Nigerians.
He said: “Nigerians have been suffering from hunger, poverty and insecurity and by the grace of God, by February 16, the hardship would be over if you vote the PDP.
“You must make sure that you vote the PDP for president, governor and all other positions.
“You must protect your votes, come out enmass and ensure that you cast your vote no matter what!”
Also speaking at the rally, the immediate past governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Ramalan Yero, chided the APC government in the state for non performance.
He said “Kaduna is for PDP and anyone who says Kaduna is not for PDP is deceiving himself.”
Osinbajo assures Lagosians of more Federal projects
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has assured Lagos State more federal projects if President Muhammadu Buhari is re-elected in the February 16, 2019, presidential election. He also promised that the Buhari-led administration would provide more infrastructures in the nation’s economic hub.
Prof Osinbajo spoke yesterday at the palace of Oloworo of Oworoland, Oba Oloruntoyin Salau, in Kosofe Local Government Area, in continuation of his house-to-house campaign for the reelection of President Buhari.
Explaining why Lagosians should vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC), the vice president said: “We were in opposition for 16 years; we have just started enjoying federal presence; we should vote for the APC to retain power at the centre to attract more development projects from the federal government.
“Governor Akinwunmi Ambode cooperated with us at the federal level and that is why we are moving forward and doing some projects for Lagos. I believe Sanwo-Olu will do the same.
“I want to assure you that Lagos and Kosofe will enjoy more federal presence. We will attract more federal projects to Lagos State.”
Responding to the demand of Oba Oloruntoyin and the people of Kosofe that the Federal Government should release Oworonsoki Global Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) before general elections, Osinbajo said: “Lagos is very important to the Federal Government and we will work on reclaiming the land.”
The monarch also called on THE government to assist in sand filling the waterlogged and swampy areas in the local government area to boost access to land that can be used for a trailer park.
According to him, such would reduce the traffic challenges of the state and stop indiscriminate parking on the highway and bridges.
He assured the vice president that the people of Kosofe will vote for President Buhari, Lagos APC governorship candidate, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and all other APC candidates contesting the state and National Assembly elections.
Osinbajo was ushered into the palace by a huge crowd of APC members, chanting “Sai Baba, Sai Buhari”; “4+4”; “PYO-Omoluabi”.
Addressing the party members, Osinbajo promised that that government would continue to empower traders, market women and farmers with none interest loan. The government, he said, would continue to provide jobs for the youths and physically challenged.
The vice president was accompanied by Sanwo-Olu, his running mate, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Special Adviser to President on Political Adviser, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, representing Lagos East Senatorial District; APC senatorial candidate for Lagos East Senatorial District Bayo Osinowo and Rotimi Agunsoye, representing Kosofe Federal Constituency, among others.
Ekweremadu denies reports of division in PDP
The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has described as untrue, reports purporting division in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2019 General Elections.
Ekweremadu, who made this known in a statement by his Media Adviser, Mr Uche Anichukwu on Monday, described the reports as “fake news, cheap blackmail, smear campaign and extreme propaganda.”
He urged party faithful and supporters not to be distracted by “the lie mills” as the nation approached the critical stages of the 2019 elections, but to remain focused.
“My attention has been drawn to the orchestrated attempts by some characters to create the impression of a divided house in Peoples Democratic Party in the coming presidential election.
“Such characters dish out fake and divisive stories without a source on a daily basis and attribute same to me.
“I refuse to be distracted by such cheap blackmail, smear campaign, and extreme propaganda,” he said.
According to him, it is important to reassure PDP supporters that the party is united and focused.
“After the PDP lost the presidency and majority status at the National Assembly in 2015, I made it clear that I would stand by the party, no matter what.
“It took other party stakeholders and I a lot of efforts, sacrifices, soul-searching and painstaking negotiations to hold the party together and rebuild it.
“If I did not abandon the PDP at its darkest hour, it does not make the slightest sense to say that I abandoned it now that its sun is rising again.
“Meanwhile, I have held separate meetings with our Vice Presidential candidate, Peter Obi and the Chairman, South East Governors Forum, Dave Umahi, to work out strategies for the success of our party and candidates in the coming elections.
“We are also setting up a meeting of South East PDP stakeholders by the weekend to continue to strategise on the coming elections,” he said.
Ortom says he is being hounded by a cabal
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has raised an alarm over what he described as an attempt by a certain cabal within the presidency to pit him against President Muhammadu Buhari, who he alleged did not act on time when two Fulani socio-cultural groups threatened and carried out attacks and killings in Benue State.
Ortom made this known yesterday while campaigning in Konshisha Local Government Area of the state.
He stated that he has never attacked the personality of the president as insinuated by the spokesman of the president, Mallam Garba Shehu.
Shehu had alleged that Ortom, who is presently campaigning for his re-election, was alleged to have claimed that Buhari was trying to Islamise Benue State.
However, Ortom while fielding questions from journalists at Tse Agbaragba described Shehu’s statement as unfortunate, stressing, “I’m not sure it’s coming from Mr President but from the presidency.”
“In my campaigns, I have never insulted President Buhari, I have never made any hate speech against him at any given time. If I talk of Miyetti Allah claiming responsibility for the killings in Benue State, it came from them and it was before the media and everybody knew about it.
“If I talk about Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM), which did a press conference in Kano and proclaimed that the killings in Benue State were a continuation of 1804 jihad, it didn’t come from me, it came from them.
“I called for the arrest of these people because they were making hate speeches and displaying impunity over this country and I reported them to security agencies. I expected that these people should have been arrested. And I was just repeating that.
“Garba Shehu cannot tell me where I’ll go and do my campaigns. If I am in the church I will also go to the mosque and respect the Muslims for who they are, and I respect the church, that is the background I come from, I am a Christian.
“Can Garba Shehu come and tell me where to campaign? He doesn’t have the right, he is from APC and I am of the PDP and I am campaigning to win the election for my party and my presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar because I believe he will not keep a cabal in the villa.
“I am a man, I am not a woman, that is why I respect the wife of the president who called all of us to come back that ‘where are the men in this country.
“Should we allow the cabal in the Villa to ruin this country? I am not a coward; it is a coward that will die 20 times before his actual death. Time has come for us to say the truth in this country. Whether it is going to be with our lives, we should say it in order to save the country and save our democracy.”
“All of us are stakeholders and we cannot fold our hands and see things being destroyed by individuals. I have no time for that, Garba Shehu should go and concentrate on his job and he should stop trying to create hatred between me and the president because I have no issues with the president.
“I talk about issues of the campaign. And if you talk about hate speech they should go and arrest FUNAM and Miyetti Allah members who made that statement and going around doing all sorts of illegal things, creating hate and confusion among Nigerians and nobody is out to say anything, rather you hear agents of government come out to give backing to Miyetti Allah.