The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Tuesday said its demand that the party’s national publicity secretary – Olisa Metuh – be either released or charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, remains unchanged.
Mr. Metuh has been in EFCC custody for over a week now over allegations of questionable payment of N400m to him for an unspecified assignment he carried out at the behest of the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
The payment was believed to have come from the $2.1 billion domiciled in the Office of the National Security Adviser and meant for purchase of arms and munitions for the Nigerian military to fight Boko Haram but which was diverted and misappropriated by the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
The clarification on the continued detention of the PDP spokesman came on the heels of a press conference addressed by the party’s deputy national publicity secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi Jalo.
Jalo, whose position was reported as that of the party during the press briefing in Abuja on Monday, called on the former president to speak out on the controversial arms deal scandal.
He was also quoted to have disowned Metuh and other chieftains of the party who have been indicted by the EFCC in the arms deal scandal.
But the PDP National Legal Adviser, Mr. Victor Kwon, in a statement late Tuesday, said Jalo is not a member of the National Working Committee and does not have the mandate of the party to speak on its behalf on any matter whatsoever.
The statement reads in part: “Under our constitution, only the National Chairman and the National Publicity Secretary or anybody so designated by the National Chairman or the National Working Committee speaks for the party. Jalo, clearly does not have this mandate and could not have been speaking for our party.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the official position of our great party remains that our spokesman should be released or charged to court as he remains innocent until proven otherwise by a court of competent jurisdiction, in line with the provisions of our constitution and the laws of Nigeria.
“The PDP is therefore resolute in challenging the continued detention of our spokesman for a week now, beyond the limits provided by the laws in violation of his constitutionally guaranteed rights as a citizen.
“We are solidly behind our spokesman in the demand for the enforcement of his rights and liberty. Our demand that he is immediately released or charge to court has not changed.
“Chief Olisa Metuh has the right under the law to his statement and the onus lies on the investigating agency to charge him to court and not to arrogate itself the duties of the judiciary”.
Mr. Kwon reiterated the PDP’s position that it is not in any way against the anti-corruption war of the All Progressives Congress-led government “provided it is done within the confines of rule of law and respect for the fundamental Human rights of citizens”.
He, however, maintained that the anti-corruption war has been turned into a witch-hunt on PDP leaders with a view to decimating the party and turning Nigeria into a one-party state.
The PDP, therefore, called on all lovers of democracy, including the international community, to take critical look at what it called “the various breaches of this administration and the threat it brings to civil liberty and national stability” and rein in the APC-led federal government to respect the values of democracy.