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Many prominent leaders of the party, have become apprehensive that anyone could be implicated and arrested as the Federal Government digs deeper into the $2.1 billion arms purchase scandal.
According to a senior member of the PDP a good number of PDP leaders are going to be affected by the arms procurement scandal. “My brother, the situation is messy. A lot of our members benefitted in one way or the other from the fund meant for arms procurement. I’m afraid that the days ahead will be tough for some senior members of the PDP,” a source tells NewTelegraph Newspaper.
Also, operatives of the EFCC have arrested Air Vice Marshal Salihu Atawodi (rtd), former chairman, Presidential Implementation Committee on Marine Safety. A source at the commission told New Telegraph that AVM Atawodi was accused of defrauding the government to the tune of over N600 million through dubious contract to procure military boats.
The source said he awarded the contract to one Alhaji Rabiu’s Hypertech Nigeria Limited. The contractor was said to have been fully paid, but the boats were never supplied. The contract award process, according to the source, violated the Procurement Act. AVM Atawodi, who had been under surveillance since 2013, was quizzed for several hours on Wednesday, after he responded to the invitation extended to him.
“He arrived the headquarters of the Commission about 11a.m.,” a source said. EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed Atawodi’s presence at the Commission. He said the ex-presidential aide is assisting the investigation. The Department of State Services (DSS) had, on Tuesday, arrested former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), former Sokoto State governor, Attahiru Bafarawa and Chairman of Daar Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, in connection with arms scandal.
Dokpesi, who was accused of collecting N2.1 billion, has admitted receiving the money from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), but said it was meant for “publicity and media political campaigns based on contractual obligations/ agreement.” But former Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Chief Olabode George and Bafarawa yesterday denied receiving any money from the controversial arms procurement fund.
The PDP had earlier condemned Dokpesi’s arrest, and said it has been made aware that “more notable PDP leaders have similarly been listed for arrest over unproven allegations” as a plot by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to cow and silence opposition in the country.
Party source, however, disclosed that fear has gripped some PDP chieftains since the last round of arrests were made. According to the source, every money collected from the NSA office is traceable because the “person will be made to sign for it.
The amount is stated and the purpose for which it is meant for. So it can be traced easily,” he said. The source, who is a member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), said he has advised most of his colleagues to be ready for arrest anytime. “I advised that we should be mindful how we speak because it will look like PDP is defending corruption. Crisis is not good for the party. The (Sambo) Dasuki issue is taking another dimension. Before now, it was attracting some sympathy; but the way it is going, many people are having a rethink.
He is our member and people will think the money was used for campaign,” the source said. It was gathered that the issue was extensively discussed at the National Working Committee (NWC) meeting of the party held on Wednesday.
Acting National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, held a close-door meeting with management staff immediately after the NWC meeting. The meeting, a source told New Telegraph, might not be unconnected with the recent clamp down on some chieftains of the party by security operatives.
But the Director, Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation in the 2015 presidential election, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, said the organisation has nothing to do with the money allegedly paid to the Dokpesi from the office of the NSA.
Fani-Kayode, who spoke with New Telegraph yesterday, said Dokpesi was not a member of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation. “As far as we are concerned, we don’t have anything to do with the payment made to Dokpesi for publicity.
“Dokpesi is not part of the Presidential Campaign Organisation. We have the structure; you know the Director General, you know the directors. We did not spend one kobo from the public fund.
All the monies we spent were from private contributions, the fact is there for anybody to scrutinise. Dokpesi is not part of us, and you know this. “If he says he collected money from somebody for something, that’s between him and the person. I am just concerned about the way the country is going,” Fani-Kayode stated. George has also refuted a report by an online medium that he collected N100 million from Dasuki, in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
In a statement issued by his political adviser, Prince Uthman Shodipe- Dosunmu, George said: “For the record, Chief Bode George did not collect N100 million from Dasuki or anybody else whatsoever.
He has never even set eyes on the former NSA throughout his tenure in office, talk less of collecting money from him. Dasuki, of course, is very much alive to corroborate this position.”
Similarly, Bafarawa has said that he did not receive any money from the embattled former security chief. A statement issued in Abuja yesterday by one of his aides, a former Special Adviser on Youths and Students Matters, Alhaji Akibu Dalhatu, maintained that he has neither had any deal with the former NSA nor collected money from him for any purpose.
“The former governor of Sokoto state, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa did not receive any money from Col. Sambo Dasuki for any arms deal or for any purpose,” Akibu said in the statement.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government yesterday dug deeper into its ongoing probe of the $2.1 billion arms purchase scandal as it employed the services of a private legal practitioner, Oladipupo Opeseyitan (SAN) to prosecute Dasuki (rtd) who is standing before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
Dasuki had earlier been charged to court on a fourcount charge bothering on illegal possession of firearms and money laundering. Dasuki is standing trial before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. Opeseyitan, however, informed the court that he had filed a motion for stay of execution of the ruling of the court which granted Dasuki permission to travel abroad for medical treatment.
He further applied to the court to put the ruling on hold pending the outcome of the appeal in the matter. Dasuki’s counsel, Ahmed Raji (SAN), in his reply told the court that he had just been served with the motion, adding that he needed time to respond to the motion.
The court later adjourned till December 8 for hearing. Dasuki, through his counsel, said that he did not at any point make a statement implicating anyone or group in the allegation of $2 billion arms purchase deal brought against him by the Federal Government.
Dasuki was said to have made the statement to the anti-graft agency and allegedly named some former governors of the PDP and chieftains of the party, among others, as accomplices in the alleged deal. Raji said his client never made such statement or name anyone to the EFCC and wondered where the authors got their information.