There were fireworks between the ruling All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party on Monday over the integrity and eligibility of their presidential candidates.
The Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council called on security agencies in the country to arrest the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, for allegedly stealing public funds through ‘Special Purpose Vehicles.’
A special purpose vehicle is a type of business arrangement that allows companies to operate a subsidiary with independence from the parent company to mitigate financial risk.
The allegation was made by the joint media directorates of the PCC at a world press conference in Abuja on Monday.
In attendance were PCC Special Adviser on Media, Communications and Public Affairs, Dele Alake; Chief Spokesperson, Festus Keyamo; Director of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga; Director of Special Media Projects/New Media, Femi Fani-Kayode and Director of Strategic Communications, Idris Mohammed.
Addressing journalists, Alake said the PDP candidate deserved to be arrested following evidence that he abused his office as vice president from 1999 to 2007 by allegedly siphoning and looting public funds through the creation of SPVs.
The call for Atiku’s arrest came in the wake of an allegation by his former media aide, Michael Achimugu, that he was privy to how the Atiku laundered public money through the Special Purpose Vehicles.
Corroborating Alake’s position, Keyamo said it was obvious from the oral account, voice notes and all other supporting documents provided by the whistle-blower that Atiku committed infractions.
He enumerated some of the possible infractions as gratification, money laundering, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.
“Sections 5, 10, 13 and 17 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act state as follows: A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.
“A public officer shall not do or direct to be done, in abuse of his office, any act prejudicial to the rights of any other person, knowing that such act is unlawful or contrary to any government policy,” he said.
On his part, Fani-Kayode noted that Atiku cannot claim to enjoy any form of immunity under the guise of being a presidential candidate.
The PCC also told journalists that it is only fair that the PDP apologise to Nigerians following his alleged corruption and use the opportunity to step down from the presidential race.
Meanwhile, Keyamo has petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, and the Code of Conduct Bureau, demanding Atiku’s arrest, investigation and prosecution.
Keyamo, in the petition sighted by one of our correspondents, asked chairmen of the EFCC, ICPC and the CCB to, within the next 72 hours, arrest or invite and question Atiku.
He vowed to get a court injunction compelling the agencies to arrest or invite the former vice president for questioning if they fail to act on the petition.
Responding, the PDP said that it was ironic that the presidential candidate of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who had been accused of perjury, forgery, treasury looting, corruption and narcotic-related conviction had been left out.
The PDP also dismissed as irresponsible, the attempt by the APC and its presidential candidate to divert public attention from the issues affecting Nigerians.
The PDP made its position known in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba.
The statement partly read, “It is indeed ironic that an embattled Tinubu, who is beleaguered by uncountable cases of fraudulent activities, including perjury, forgery, treasury looting, corruption and narcotic-related conviction can attempt to impugn on the unimpeachable integrity of the PDP Presidential Candidate.
“For clarity and for the interest of Nigerians, it is on record that Atiku Abubakar is one of the most investigated public officials in this country. It is also on record that in all the investigations undertaken over him and his affairs, Atiku Abubakar was never found culpable in any of the allegations.
“In contrast, however, the APC presidential candidate has a litany of confirmed legal impediments on very grave issues including those that border on international crime, namely trafficking in narcotics and taking proceeds of narcotics.”
The PDP’s spokesperson said Tinubu had not come out to deny his alleged conviction and forfeiture or show evidence of any attempt by him to challenge or appeal the judgment, “apparently believing that it will slide with time.”
The PDP advised the APC candidate to withdraw from the presidential race, having been allegedly found ineligible and not qualified to run or contest for the Office of the President of Nigeria under the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.