Buffetted by allegations of bribery from officials within its fold, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has issued a rebuttal, saying the money paid into the accounts of the NWC members was meant to cover their housing needs.
In a statement, a member of the NWC and party spokesman, Barrister Debo Ologunagba, frowned at what it described as “misrepresenting reports” in the media “alluding strange and unfounded motives to the Housing Allowance duly approved and paid to NWC members and staff of the Party.”
He adds, “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.
“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 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 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 behavior 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 PDP therefore urges all members, teeming supporters and the general public to disregard the report and misleading insinuation 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).”
Recall that at least four members of the NWC returned about N122.4 million to the party, in what has been interpreted in some quarters as part of the battle against the National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu by the governors opposed to his continued leadership of the party.
They include Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Seye Makinde (Oyo), and Samuel Ortom (Benue).
In separate letters to the PDP, the NWC members said the monies had been paid into their account without their knowledge.
The money was said to be part of the over N10 billion realised by the party from nomination fees paid by aspirants.
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.
While Adagunodo, Orbih and Effah-Attoe got N28.8 million each, Arapaja was paid N36 million.
In a letter to the PDP leadership notifying PDP Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu of returning the money, Orbih said he received the credit alert with “shock and surprise.”
“My attention has been drawn to a damaging trending story reported in THE NATION Newspaper by Yusuf Alli on September 26, 2022 titled ‘Disquiet in PDP NW over N10 billion nomination fees.’ Amongst several other allegations, he alleged that members of the NWC were offered N28 million to gloss over scandalous financial misappropriation,” Orbih’s letter read.
“To my shock and surprise, it has been confirmed to me by my bank that the sum of N28, 800,000. (Twenty eight million eight hundred thousand Naira) has been credited to my account by the party. I hereby notify you of my decision to pay back the
money to the party’s account.”
Adagunodo in his letter to Ayu wrote, “Please be informed that the said payment has become a subject of media story and carried with bad intention by them.
“I hereby inform you of the refund of the Sum of Twenty Eight Million Eight Hundred Thousand Naira (#28,800,000:00) back to the Peoples Democratic Party, Account Number: 1000095003 at Globus Bank PLC. The receipt of the payment back to the account is attached.”
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.
“In addition, some National Newspapers/Social Media Platforms have also carried stories accusing the NC members of being placated with Bribe of N28,800,000.00.
“This development has made me very uncomfortable. Having found myself in such an embarrassing situation, I am hereby refunding to the Bank Account of our Great Party at the PDP National Secretariat.”
On his part, Arapaja wrote, “I observed a malicious story reported in the Nations Newspaper of 26th September 2022; where it was alleged that members of the National Working Committee were offered humongous amount of money to silent us over an allegation of financial misappropriation to the tune of Fifteen Billion Nara (N15,000,000,000.00).
“This led me to browse through my various alerts, and I discovered a transfer of Thirty-Six Million Naira (N36,000,000.00) from the Party.
“I have my reservation about this money transferred into my account and for personal reasons wish to return it accordingly.”