• It Was Duly Approved Says Party
Amid heightening calls for the resignation of the embattled National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), Senator Iyorchia Ayu by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and many of his loyalists, the crisis rocking the party got messier, on Thursday, as some members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) rejected over N120million alleged housing allowance paid into their account.
Trouble started when no fewer than four members of the party’s NWC returned about N122.4 million to the party.
In separate letters to the PDP, the NWC members said the monies had been paid into their account without their knowledge.
The NWC members who returned the money are the National Vice Chairman (South-West) Olasoji Adagunodo, the Deputy National Chairman (South) Taofeek Arapaja; National Vice Chairman (South), Chief Dan Orbih and National Women Leader, Prof. Stella Affah-Attoe.
The NWC members in different letters addressed to the National Chairman and to the Treasurer, attached receipts of the refund to the party’s account which include the Deputy National Chairman (South), Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, who refunded N36m; National Vice Chairman South-South, Chief Dan Orbih (N28.8m); National Woman Leader, Prof. Stella Effah-Attoe (N28.8m); National Vice Chairman South-West, Olasoji Adagunobi-Oluwatukesi (N28.8m)
The NWC members claimed that the money was paid into their account without their knowledge, as such, they only got to know about the money after a story broke in several news media of an alleged bribe paid to the NWC members to prevent the removal of Ayu as National Chairman.
Effah-Attoe in her letter claimed that when she inquired about the N28,800,000,00 paid to her account, she was told by the office of the PDP National Treasurer that the amount was for house rent for two years as NWC members.
“When I enquired from your Office, I was told that the said sum is for Two (2) years House Rent for me, as a member of The National Working Committee,” the letter read.
“Since after the lodgment of the money into my Bank Account, I have been inundated with many phone calls from party members, friends, family members and the general public, insinuating that the said money has been given as a bribe to bring me and other NWC members on the side of The National Chairman, following the crisis between him on one side and the Governor of Rivers State, H.E Governor Nyesom Wike/ Wike’s Group on the other side” she said.
While reacting to the development, PDP in a statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Debo Ologunagba, in Abuja, dismissed insinuations that the over N120 million returned by NWC were paid as bribes by the party leadership.
Hear him “the attention of the NWC has been drawn to misrepresenting reports in a section of the media alluding strange and unfounded motives to the Housing Allowance duly approved and paid to NWC members and staff of the Party.
“The NWC has noted that this misleading report stemmed from an unfounded publication by a particular media outlet which suggested that the Housing Allowance, an entitlement duly approved and paid to national officials and staff of the party amounted to bribery. “
He further said, “For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP states in an unequivocal term that no funds were paid into the account of any member of the NWC as a bribe for any purpose whatsoever for that matter.
“To set the record straight, the Housing Allowance being referred to went through the Due Process of the Party in line with the Conditions of Service and Entitlement of the Staff and Principal Officers of the Party.
“If any individual, for any reason decides to return money duly approved and paid, such does not in any way suggest that the money was paid as a bribe or indicate that it was illegitimate or unlawfully paid.
“A bribe is defined as ‘money or any other valuable consideration given or promised with a view to corrupting the behaviour of a person, especially in that person’s performance as a public official”.
“This is not the case in the payment of Housing Allowance duly approved for officials and staff of the Party. “
The party urged all members, teeming supporters and the general public to disregard the report and misleading insinuations which are clearly designed to malign the PDP, cause disaffection and distract our party from our mission to Rescue, Rebuild and Redirect our nation from the misrule of the All-Progressives Congress (APC).