The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that its allegation of bias against the administration’s anti-corruption fight has been proved right following the release of a close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari and All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Brig.-General Ja’afaru Isa (rtd) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The opposition party said General Isa was released barely eight hours after his arrest, while its spokesman, Chief Olisa Metuh, has remained in detention since last Tuesday without being charged to court.
PDP again restated its demand that the EFCC should immediately release its spokesman or charge him to court if the agency has any case against him.
The party warned that it might no longer be able to exercise control over its supporters who have been exercising restraint since this particular arrest by the EFCC.
In a statement issued yesterday by the PDP National Legal Adviser, Mr. Victor Kwon, the party said the action of the anti-graft agency had vindicated its position that the federal government was not fighting corruption but had embarked on a clampdown against PDP leaders.
The party said its spokesman, who was arrested without invitation by the EFCC was incarcerated since last Tuesday while the APC chieftain who even disregarded the commission’s invitation and had to be arrested was quickly released after the EFCC boss, Mr. Ibrahim Magu’s meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The opposition party said there could be no clearer indication that the APC-led administration was on a manhunt against PDP leaders, and that it has a personal grudge against Metuh, ostensibly for his stance as the opposition spokesman and particularly his recent exchange with the government and the APC over their “dictatorial activities”.
The party queried the action of the EFCC in freeing General Isa, eight hours after his arrest last Wednesday night while Metuh has remained detained even when the two were investigated for similar allegations of receiving funds from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
“The release of Ja’afaru Isa, a known associate of the president and chieftain of the APC eight hours after his arrest while our spokesman remains in detention even when the two are being investigated over the same allegation, clearly shows that the President Buhari-led government is not fighting corruption but using the much hyped crusade as a cover to persecute PDP leaders and decimate the opposition, a project the EFCC has clearly yielded itself as a willing tool.
“We have information of the marching order from the presidency for the immediate release of the president’s associate and his issue was one of the reasons for the repeated visits of the EFCC chairman to the Presidential Villa within the period of his arrest. Of course, there is nothing hidden under the sun.
“We ask, how can the EFCC now explain to the world that it is not corrupt and teleguided by the federal government to persecute PDP leaders? What happened to the illegal holding charge upon which it has detained the PDP spokesman beyond the limit stipulated by Section 35(5)(a) of the Constitution and in violation of his guaranteed personal liberty under the law?
“Are there now two separate sets of laws: one for PDP leaders and perceived foes of the President Buhari-led government which allows them to be detained beyond constitutional limits without being charged to court and another set, for associates of the president and APC leaders, which guarantees them a slap in the back and immunity from investigation and prosecution, and if arrested their immediate release?
“Is it really true that the money Ja’afaru Isa was alleged to have received from the former NSA was traced to the corridors of those who today bestride power in the country? Furthermore, can the federal government and the APC now in all honesty face the world and announce that this administration is indeed waging a war against corruption?
“Can the EFCC explain what has happened to several petitions by Nigerians on corruption issues against many APC leaders including those who as former governors looted funds belonging to their states? Are they now under immune to prosecution because they are in the APC and most of the funds they looted where used to finance the ruling party’s presidential campaign?
“While we reiterate our support for any effort aimed at eradicating corruption in our nation, we stand our ground in demanding that the fight must be holistic, credible, and within the limits provided by the laws irrespective of political affiliations.
“The PDP therefore restates its demand that the EFCC immediately releases its spokesman, Chief Olisa Metuh or charge him to court if they have any case against him.
“His continued detention without being charged to court is only indicative of the fact that the commission has not been able to convince itself of enough evidence of guilt and is now lending itself as a willing instrument of persecution against Chief Metuh,” PDP said.
PDP stated that it was not in the habit of making frivolous claims “as evidenced in many instances including our alert last year of a meeting between the presidency, the then newly appointed INEC Chairman and top security officers just before the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections”.
“Finally, we state with every sense of responsibility that now that it is clear, with the release of Jafaru Isa eight hours after his arrest, that the continued detention of our spokesman is politically motivated, this party can no longer guarantee that it can rein in its members and supporters who have been exercising restraint since this particular arrest by the EFCC.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us and the laws are made for all of us and must be applied on its value and spirit without political considerations,” it said.