A fresh perspective has been added to the current crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) concerning the clamour for the removal of the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, as six members of the National Working Committee of the party have returned N177m paid into their accounts in “the guise of house rents” due to them.
Those that have returned the alleged bribe (money) paid to them from the “proceeds of the N10bn sale of nomination forms” include the Deputy National Chairman (South), Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, who refunded N36m to the party’s account; National Vice Chairman South-South, Chief Dan Orbih (N28m); National Woman Leader, Prof. Stella Effah-Attoe (N28m); National Vice Chairman South-East, Dr Alli Odefa (N28m); National Vice Chairman South-West, Olasoji Adagunobi-Oluwatukesi (N28m) and Deputy National Secretary, Setonji Koshoedo (N28m).
The latest crisis started when questions were asked on how the bulk of the over N10bn realised by the party from nomination fees paid by aspirants have been spent. It was gathered that in order to douse tension, the PDP leadership instructed that each NWC member be paid N28m, apparently to gloss over the huge cash in order not to cause any fresh crisis in the party.
According to a letter addressed to the National Chairman of the party yesterday entitled: “Return of N36m housing allowance paid into my account”, Arapaja said he refunded the money because the circumstance under which the money was transferred to his account was not clear.
The signed letter by Arapaja read in full, “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 of the party were offered humungous amount of money to silent us over an allegation of financial misappropriation to the tune of N15bn.
“This led me to browse through my various alerts and I discovered a transfer of N36m from the party. I have my reservation about this money transferred into my account and for personal reasons I wish to return it accordingly. Kindly confirm the receipt of UBA electronic transfer of my N36m attached herewith.”
Also, Orbih also stated, “My attention has been drawn to a damaging trending story in the Nation newspaper of September 26, 2022, titled: Disquiet in PDP NWC over N10bn nomination fees. Among several allegations, the story alleged that members of the NWC were offered N28m to gloss over scandalous financial misappropriation.
“To my shock and surprise, it has been confirmed to me by my bank that the sum of N28m 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.”
But the PDP has dismissed insinuations that the monies returned by six members of the committee were paid as bribes by the party leadership. National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Hon. Debo Ologunagba said this in a statement in Abuja, late on Thursday.
“The attention of the NWC “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.”