The crisis in the All Progressives Congress (APC) between some governors of the party and its National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, took another turn over the weekend as the Department of State Services (DSS) reportedly detained and interrogated Oshiomhole.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was not aware of the DSS’ action, has ordered an immediate probe of the matter, while the party is said to be considering appropriate sanctions against some of its governors accused of being behind the plot.
In the past three weeks, Oshiomhole has been engaged in a war of words with Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and his Ogun State counterpart, Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
The two governors have openly criticised the party chairman for rejecting their anointed candidates, Uche Nwosu and Hon. Abdulkabir Akinlade, to succeed them in Imo and Ogun states, respectively.
It was gathered yesterday that the two governors are seen as the masterminds of Oshiomhole’s ordeal.
The APC national chairman, an online newspaper, TheCable, yesterday, reported, was grilled by DSS operatives for nine hours on Sunday after some APC governors alleged that he received bribes during the recently held primary elections of the party.
The paper further reported that Oshiomhole was asked to resign during interrogation, but he resisted, saying he would only do so if he loses the confidence of President Buhari, who was in the know of all actions he took during the party’s primaries.
When contacted, National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lanre Issa-Onilu and spokesperson of the DSS, said they were not aware of the arrest and quizzing of Oshiomhole.
However, a top aide to the APC national chairman, exclusively told our correspondent that he (Oshiomhole) was quizzed by operatives of the DSS.
“Yes, he was invited by the DSS, questioned and detained for hours with the operatives asking him to resign his position as chairman of the ruling party, which he objected to,” the source said.
He blamed Okorocha and Amosun for Oshiomhole’s ordeal, while revealing that the APC national chairman, after conferring with President Buhari on the matter, travelled out of the country on Tuesday.
According to the aide, the two governors are still embittered over the outcome of the APC’s governorship primaries in which their preferred aspirants lost. They had claimed that Oshiomhole used his position as the national chairman of the party to shut out their anointed candidates.
It would be recalled that the Oshiomhole-led APC National Working Committee (NWC), at the weekend, submitted the name of Senator Hope Uzodinma to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the governorship candidate of the party in Imo State as against Okorocha’s son-in-law, Nwosu, while in Ogun State, it was Prince Dapo Abiodun as against Akinlade, who is Amosun’s choice.
A party source, who further confirmed the claim by Oshiomhole’s aide, told New Telegraph that the APC national chairman’s invitation by the DSS on Sunday, shortly after he returned to Abuja from his village in Edo State, was orchestrated by Okorocha and Amosun, acting in cahoots with an APC governor from a Northern.
According to the source, the governors took the step after they failed to mobilise the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to pass a no confidence vote in Oshiomhole.
His words: “When the move for a no confidence vote failed, the aggrieved governors decided to procure the services of the DSS to force Oshiomhole to write and sign a letter of resignation, which would have ended his chairmanship of the party.
“He was grilled for about six hours during which he was confronted with unsubstantiated allegations that he collected bribes to predetermine the outcomes of the recent APC’s primary elections. But, Oshiomhole rebuffed the pressure by the DSS interrogators to make him write his resignation letter.
“The former labour leader insisted that he would not acquiesce in their request unless he had discussed with President Buhari, whose name the DSS interrogators dropped in the course of the questioning. He told the DSS interrogators point blank that he would rather die than to cave in to their pressure for him to resign a position that the party vested in him at the national convention.”
Besides Buhari, New Telegraph further learnt that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, were also piqued by the action of Governors Okorocha and Amosun.
Sources close to them said they described their action as an affront to the presidency and the APC leadership.
It was also gathered that an APC governor of one of the North-West states is mobilising other Northern governors to support Oshiomhole. The move is said to be a response to the subtle threats by Okorocha and Amosun to rock the boat of the party as well as to work against Buhari in their respective states during the 2019 presidential election.
A former national vice chairman of the party, who said he heard of Oshiomhole’s arrest, but couldn’t confirm it, warned the party’s leadership against the danger of forcing the national chairman to resign his position.
“This is trouble signal for the party because it is happening at a time when everyone is running around to see how we can put our house in order ahead of the election,” he said.
While efforts to get Amosun to react to the allegation was unsuccessful last night as one of his media aides, who promised to get back to our correspondent failed to do so, Chief Press Secretary to Okorocha, Sam Onwuemedo, said the governor would respond to the claim at the appropriate time.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, who denied arrest of Oshiomhole by the DSS, told journalists at the party secretariat in Abuja that the national chairman was in his office on Monday and Tuesday before he travelled Tuesday evening.
He explained that Oshiomhole ought to have travelled before this time, but severally postponed his travel because of the submission of the party’s list of candidates for the general elections to INEC.
“The party is not aware of any arrest and quizzing of its national chairman. He was in office on Monday and Tuesday before he travelled on Tuesday evening. We wait to hear from the National Chairman on the report, but as I speak to you, no such report of his arrest and grill is before us,” Issa-Onilu.
DSS Public Relations Officer, Mr. Peter Nnochiri, who also denied knowledge of Oshiomhole’s arrest, in a terse reply to a text message requesting the official position of the agency on the matter, said: “I’m not aware of this.”
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as reprehensible, revelations that the Buhari presidency is concealing alleged bribery and corrupt practices involving the APC national chairman.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said it was privy to the pressure on the DSS to let Oshiomhole off the hook for fears that his investigation would unearth the complicity of the presidency and other key members of the APC in the scam.
PDP said: “Information available to the PDP reveal that apart from the billions of naira he allegedly stole from the coffers of Edo State when he was governor, Oshiomhole is facing charges of allegedly collecting billions of naira bribe from some ministers and other APC sources in Adamawa, Rivers, Kano and Imo states to manipulate the 2019 electoral process.
“This is in addition to allegedly collecting billions of naira from presidency sources to influence electoral officers, independent observers and certain polling organisations ahead of the 2019 election, part of which was allegedly diverted for personal use of some APC leaders.
“The PDP had always alerted Nigerians of the corruption allegation burden on the APC chairman and the continued official cover provided for him by the Buhari presidency, including stalling his investigation and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged stealing of billions of naira from Edo State coffers.
“If the Buhari presidency has nothing to hide; if it is not complicit in the alleged scam, it should allow the DSS and EFCC a free hand to investigate and prosecute his party’s factional chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, particularly now that all issues are laid bare before Nigerians.
“As long as the DSS and the EFCC are not allowed to put Oshiomhole into the dock, the Buhari presidency does not have the moral rectitude to speak on corruption. This is especially as the involvement of the DSS shows that the corruption burden of the APC chairman has already become a security risk for our nation.
“Finally, the PDP cautions that under no circumstance should the presidency escort Adams Oshiomhole out of the country, just like it did for the disgraced Buhari’s former Minister of Finance.”