Rabid garrulousness/corruption allegations: Oshiomhole under siege? By Monday Oviawe

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Rabid garrulousness/corruption allegations:

Oshiomhole under siege?

By Monday Oviawe

 

The immediate past Governor of Edo State and current national chairman, All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has fallen into dire times and under an unceasing siege with saturated reports of stinging backlashes of controversial primaries held by the APC across the country, penultimate week, a dilemma further aggravated, last week, with an Abuja High Court ruling mandating the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to commence processes for the invitation and investigation of the former labour leader against the backdrop of the pending petition of corruption allegations tendered by an anti-corruption crusader, Bishop(Dr.) Osadolor Anthony Ochei.

Reports were rift, last week, about the stormy crisis rocking the ruling APC, following accusations and counter accusations from across the states, even as petitions and court rulings have thrown more spanners into the works of the various national committees of the party constituted to oversee the primaries.

From Lagos to Imo, from Zamfara to Katsina to Akwa-Ibom, Ekiti, Ogun, Oyo, Kwara, and several other states, complaints and protests have been reported against party leaders who allegedly imposed candidates while some organized parallel primaries that have left the workings and cohesion of the party in tatters.

While the incumbent governor of Lagos State, Chief Akinwumi Ambode, had to cave in to pressures as the primaries held in the former Nigeria’s capital, went the way the APC godfather and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, wanted it to go, the one in Akwa-Ibom was not so organized as angry youths reportedly burnt down a police station because, according to the protesters, the police allegedly aided in the imposition of unpopular candidates on the generality of party members.

In Zamfara, the state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, was trenchant in his accusation that Comrade Oshiomhole was bent on causing chaos in the state and foist his preferred candidates on the people.  Today, INEC, has reportedly written, though it is still being contested by the ruling party,  that there would be no APC candidates in the coming 2019 elections in the state, because the party could not meet Sunday’s deadline for the submission of names of its candidates that emerged from conducted primaries in the state.

In the same breath, a Port Harcourt High Court ruled late last week that the APC governorship candidate, Cole, who emerged from the controversial primaries conducted by a section of the party, was not properly chosen, and that his choice was illegal, null and void.  In Kaduna State, where Gov. el Rufai is having a running battle with the national chairman of the party, Oshiomhole, over the conduct of the party primaries, is also embroiled in crisis following the parallel conducts of the primaries with Senator Shehu Sani purportedly losing his Kaduna Central senatorial ticket to el Rufai’s mole, Special Adviser on Political Affairs, Malam Uba Sani, even as the national secretariat of the party insisted that an automatic ticket of return had earlier been granted the serving senator.

While in Delta State there are protests against the alleged imposition of former state governor Chief Emmanuel Uduaghan, with one of the frontline aspirants, Michael Johnny dragging the party to court, the Benue State APC is reportedly torn between Dickson Akoh and Dan Onjeh who were products of different organized primaries that held in the state.  In Ekiti State, a senatorial aspirant for Ekiti North district, Chief Kayode Otitoju, has threatened legal action against the Comrade Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee should the party recognize the declared winner of the contest, Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi.

The case of Taraba State is even fiercer as APC strongman, Uba Mairiga and the so-known Mama Taraba, former Minister, Alhassan, have pointedly accused Adams Oshiomhole of blocking their emergence by deliberately inciting controversial primaries.  Today, Mairiga has reportedly decamped from the APC to the UDP with as many as 50,000 of his supporters.

With all these crises raging and threatening the cohesion and virility of the APC across the various states, First Lady, Aisha Buhari, rose menacingly, last week, to accuse Adams Oshiomhole of instigating mayhem with the haphazard and controversial conduct of the party primaries.

The First Lady chastised Oshiomhole in the manner the national chairman of the party gave automatic tickets to some aspirants while at the same time denying others a level playing field to aspire. She quarreled at the huge sum of money collected from the aspirants for the purchase of nomination forms and then treating them unfairly in the contest.

Read the full text of her tweet: “It is disheartening to note that some aspirants used their hard earned money to purchase nomination forms, got screened, cleared and campaigned vigorously, yet found their names omitted on Election Day.  These forms were bought at exorbitant prices.

“Many others contested and yet had their result delayed, fully knowing that automatic tickets have been given to other people.  APC being a party whose cardinal principle is change and headed by a comrade/activist whose main concern is for the common man, yet, such impunity could take place under its watch.

“It is important for the populace to rise against impunity and for voters to demand from aspirants to be committed to the provision of basic amenities such as: portable water and basic health care (primary health care centres.)  Given this development, one will not hesitate than dissociate from such unfairness, be neutral and speak for the voiceless.  Let us vote wisely! Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria!”

Only last week, the Coalition of APC Presidential aspirants, including governorship, senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly aspirants, has called on Comrade Oshiomhole to resign from his position for the ludicrous manner he handed the just concluded primaries of the party across the country.

In a statement signed by Alhaji Mumakai-Unagha and Dr SKC Ogbonnia, said: “The National Chairman does not have the capacity to lead the party to victory come 2019, following the crisis he has created all over the country as soon as he assumed office.  He has, therefore, lost the confidence of All Progressive Progress members.”

The statement maintained that should the national chairman fail to resign, the coalition would mobilize its members across the country to besiege the party secretariat to register their grievances and ensure the chairman’s resignation.

According to the Coalition, Comrade Oshiomhole  “has not only succeeded in creating factions within the party in almost the whole thirty six states of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, he has introduced development unknown to democracy.  He deliberately hiked the prizes of nomination forms to scare genuine Nigerians with burning desire to salvage the nation’s economy; he is gradually destroying the party to pave way for the Peoples Democratic Party.

“It is obvious that he cannot manage crisis and he will not be able to manage the crisis he created with impunity during the recent primary elections conducted by the party, as it was all sham. He imposed party executives as well as candidates in the various constituents against the wishes of the people.

“Adams Oshiomhole conspired to deny Nigerian youths as well as party members that are desirous of contesting the 2019 general election through the prohibitive hike of the nomination form. Today, APC as a party is sharply divided as the recent primary elections were held on factional bases.  We are not sure of the party victory come 2019 due to what we may regard or call man-made crisis created by the chairman.”

And as if all of these were not yet enough for the former Edo State maximum ruler, a Federal High Court, Abuja, with Justice Anwuli Chikere presiding, ordered that ex-governor Oshiomhole be served with an application brought before the court by an anti-corruption crusader, Bishop Osadolor Anthony Ochei.  The judge further ordered that the anti-graft agency, the EFCC, be also served with the court process, insisting that the service should be done within five days beginning from October 9, 2018, when the order was made.

Bishop Ochei’s counsel, Dr West-Idahosa while arguing a motion ex-parte filed in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/628/ 2018 urged the Court to allow Oshiomhole and the EFCC, who are the respondents in the suit to file a reply to the weighty allegations made against them by the Applicant in support of the Federal Government’s anti-corruption fight.

The exparte motion followed Bishop Ochei’s petition to the EFCC on October 28, 2016, ‎against Oshiomhole, who was governor of Edo state from November 2008 to November 11, 2016.

Dr. Idahosa, in praying the court to grant the request of his client, referred the court to 86 exhibits filed in support of the application and added that there are documents and electronic pictures of palatial houses of the former governor, whose earnings all his life cannot acquire and that, there are evidence on how Oshiomhole allegedly diverted money for Edo state project to personal projects.

The Civil Rights Activist, anti-Corruption crusader, and minister of the gospel, Bishop (Dr.) Osadolor Anthony Ochei, who presides at the Divine Heavenly Vision International Ministry Incorporated, had earlier this year, summoned ex-governor Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, before the government of the United States of America as he continues to exercise his privileges to cause an investigation to be instigated against the former governor to answer to corruption allegations he had raised before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Bishop Ochei, in a letter addressed to the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, dated June 18, 2018, alleged that the EFCC was feet-dragging in inviting the ex-governor for questioning, insisting that “As a citizen who has been denied good governance as a result of misappropriation and massive looting of state funds, I write you this letter from a position of a denied citizen to bring to your attention this very serious case begging for Justice. EFCC has a responsibility to investigate these serious allegations, instead they have refused to act, and I am getting threats from different quarters for taking steps not to allow this case to end up like many others,  especially those concerning APC members that are swept under the carpet.”

When that story broke sometime in June, 2018, The Navigator, in its Vol. V No. 11 edition of July 9, 2018, spoke with a cross section of Edo indigenes, on the burning issue, a number of whom maintained that so long as a petition had been written, signed and submitted by a named verifiable person (s), the EFCC was not expected to be further coerced by the ruling of a court to swiftly swing into action by inviting the ex-governor for questioning and possible investigation.

It would be recalled that only recently it was widely reported that Bishop Osadolor Ochei had gone to a federal high court in Abuja to compel the EFCC (1st Respondent) to investigate corruption allegations he made in his petition and several other petitions against former governor of Edo State, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole (2nd Respondent).  This new order by Justice Anwuli Chikere, giving legal strength to the request to compel EFCC to do the needful, is the product of that legal sojourn.

In a Motion Ex-Parte, Bishop (Dr) Osadolor Ochei seeks A DECLARATION that the 1st Respondent has the statutory duty to investigate and commence criminal prosecution of 2nd Respondent upon the allegations made by the Applicant and establishment of such allegations against the 2nd Respondent by the 1st Respondent pursuant to Sections 6(b) & (h) and 13(2) of the EFCC Act, 2004.

2. AN ORDER granting leave to the Applicant to apply for the issuance of an Order of Mandamus compelling 1st Respondent, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate and commence criminal proceedings against the 2nd Respondent, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, upon the allegations made by the Applicant against the 2nd Respondent, contained in the Grounds in support of this application and detailed in the Petitions of the Applicant to the 1st Respondent dated 28th October, 2016 and published in the Daily Sun Newspaper of 7th November, 2016, together with other national newspapers, bothering on economic and financial crimes.

3. Any further Orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.  He listed several ground upon which the reliefs are sought to included but not limited to:

3.1 The 1st Respondent is legally charged by law to detect and prevent economic and financial crimes, apprehend, investigate and prosecute persons against whom allegations of crime have been made with a prima facie case established.

3.2 In view of the fact that corruption is a social ill that has deeply eaten into the Nation’s fabric, there is the need for the 1st Respondent to take complaints against corrupt practice seriously and be pro-active in dealing with complaints concerning corruption. The 1st Respondent has a duty of a ministerial character to act on such complaint.

3.3 The 2nd Respondent was the Governor of Edo State from 12th November, 2008 to 11th November, 2016 and during which period the 2nd Respondent enjoyed constitutional immunity from criminal proceedings.

3.4 The Applicant has complained to the 1st Respondent about allegations of corrupt practices as well as economic and financial crimes against the 2nd Respondent, on a number of occasions, without eliciting any response or interest from the 1st Respondent in this regard. The 1st Respondent failed to examine and investigate the said allegations upon such reports to it.

3.5 That on the 4th May, 2012, one Matthew Edaghese sent a petition to the 1st Respondent against the 2nd Respondent complaining that while serving as Governor of Edo State, the 2nd Respondent built a mansion on a huge expanse of land worth more than N10 billion naira in excess of the 2nd Respondent’s legitimate means of income as Governor. The 1st Respondent did nothing about the said petition, despite its duty to do so under Section 7 of the EFCC Act, 2004.

Meanwhile, while writing to put the controversy in clearer and proper perspective, though according to him the personalities behind the issued BNC press statement ought not to have been dignified with a reply, Benin-based public affairs’ commentator, Mr. Nosa Omorodion, insisted that the issue at stake was to clarify whether or not ex-governor Oshiomhole should be subjected to EFCC investigation as canvassed by Bishop Ochei, and not the diversionary and ad hominem tactic employed by the BNC in its press statement.

The Benin National Congress, a socio-cultural organization, had come out in June 2018 to hold brief for ex-governor Oshiomhole in a press release titled Who is afraid of Oshiomhole? Benin National Council warns political fake Bishop, and signed by its Chief Legal and Logistics Officer, Arc. Oduwa Igbinoghene.  The BNC had condemned Bishop Ochei whom it referred to as “the self-professed Man of God” who had compiled spurious petition against Comrade Adams Oshiomhole “at the instance of his pay masters.”

Read the full article by Nosa Omorodion titled Re: Who is afraid of Oshiomhole? as published by The Navigator in its July 9, 2018 edition: “One laughable fallacy, which the group tried to use in defending their principal is the copious mention of the reception accorded Comrade Oshiomhole by the Oba of Benin upon the completion of his two-term governorship of Edo State.  One wonders how the Oba’s honour of Oshiomhole as governor should shield him from investigation for alleged diversion of Edo State resources.  In the same vein, how does the commendations he received from some members of the Benin elite, some of who are his long standing political associates, make Oshiomhole beyond reprimand for alleged financial crimes he committed when he was governor?

“It is pertinent to point out that some of the persons convicted so far, including former governors, were also at one time or the other conferred with honours and chieftaincy titles no lesser in value than what the Oba of Benin did for Oshiomhole on completion of his tenure as Governor of Edo State.

“The issue in Bishop Ochei’s petitions before the EFCC has nothing to do with Oshiomhole’s so-called developmental strides as governor but rather with his conduct in the application of the funds received on behalf of Edo State government, as prescribed by law.

“For instance, the Bishop drew attention to allegation of Oshiomhole possessing a multi-million estate in his village Iyamho, near Auchi.  He also stated that Oshiomhole has a mansion worth millions in Benin City. These are issues that should not be waved aside if really we are committed to fighting corruption perpetrated by public officials. Talking about how well Oshiomhole performed in office goes to no issue when interrogating his judicious use of public funds. The allegations have been made; EFCC ought to visit Iyamho and Okorotun by way of investigation to unravel the true state of the properties. What would it cost the EFCC to do this?

“The issue of the Central Hospital, Benin, constructed and commissioned by Oshiomhole but which has remained non-functional and locked up two years after, is a pointer to the rot that characterized Oshiomhole’s administration. Oshiomhole, himself, said in a recent interview that the hospital has remained unused due to an issue with the contract he awarded for the equipping of the hospital.

“Similarly, we have the issue of the N30billion Benin Storm Water Project which is largely uncompleted and has become a serious environmental hazard despite the huge amount expended. It is common knowledge that Governor Godwin Obaseki has rejected the rates Oshiomhole was using for roads and other contracts on the grounds that they were too high and indefensible.

“Recent revelations from Edo State Ministry of Education leading to the dismissal of a Permanent Secretary under Oshiomhole, the on-going trial of the former SUBEB Chairman and others by the EFCC and Governor Obaseki’s outburst over the level of corruption in EDSOPADEC, only confirm our suspicions and why the EFCC should act.

“Can Oshiomhole account for how he spent the World Bank loan he collected which has made Edo State the third most indebted state in Nigeria with regards to foreign loans? These are just a few of the issues, which perhaps Bishop Ochei has in his 68 sacks of evidence that he says the EFCC has, and which they have refused to investigate. For Bishop Ochei, a well-known advocate of good governance who does not need the prompting of any politician to advance the public good, his resort to court to compel the EFCC to take action on his petition submitted in November 2016 is commendable.

“The unknown Benin National Council, however, says that Bishop Ochei’s action is motivated by the desire to discredit Oshiomhole ahead the June 23 National Convention of the APC. Is it not ridiculous to relate an action which was instituted in 2016 when Oshiomhole had not dreamed of contesting the APC National Chairmanship to the event that would take place almost two years after?

“Again, why did the group try to distract attention of the public from the subject matter by attacking Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu for the petition against Oshiomhole? What has Pastor Ize-Iyamu got to do with the petitions or allegations against Oshiomhole? Unlike Oshiomhole, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, from the records, has neither been elected to any office in Edo State nor has he had the power to approve the release of government funds for the development of Edo State. Therefore, making reference to Ize-Iyamu, in order to defend Oshiomhole from answering questions regarding how honestly and judiciously he spent the funds placed under his care for the full benefit of Edo people, for the eight years of his governance, is completely misplaced.

“Finally, the question Edo people, and indeed all Nigerians, ought to ask, against the backdrop of the desperate and trenchant defence of the BNC and others sympathetic to Oshiomhole, is why should Oshiomhole be afraid of EFCC investigation?”

Counsel to Bishop Ochei, Dr West-Idahosa, last week, in Abuja, while arguing a motion ex-parte filed in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/628/ 2018 urged the Court to allow Oshiomhole and the EFCC, who are the respondents in the suit, to file a reply to the weighty allegations made against them by the Applicant in support of the Federal Government’s anti-corruption fight. Bishop Ochei is praying the court to declare that the EFCC has the statutory duty to investigate and prosecute ex-governor Oshiomhole on the strength of his allegations against him.

Dr. Idahosa reminded and drew the attention of the court to 86 exhibits filed in support of the application and added that there are relevant incriminating documents, vouchers, receipts and electronic pictures of palatial houses of the former governor, whose earnings all his life cannot acquire and that, there are evidence on how Oshiomhole allegedly diverted money for Edo state project to personal projects.

Justice Chikere has adjourned hearing on the case to the 23rd October 2018 for arguments from all the parties involved.

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