From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has assumed a new twist as three member of the National Working Committee (NWC), yesterday, returned N122.4 million paid into their accounts by the party leadership.
The affected NWC members – Taofeek Alapaja, deputy national chairman (South), Dan Orbih, national vice chairman (South South), Olasoji Adagunodo, national vice chairman and Stella Effah- Atoe, national women leader – returned N36,000,000, N28,800,000 and N28,800,000, N28, respectively.
The quartet in separate letters to the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu and the National Treasurer dated September 29, said they were returning the money over media reports that NWC members were allegedly offered humongous sums to silent them over alleged financial misappropriation at the national secretariat.
The PDP has been embroiled in crisis in the aftermath of the emergence of Atiku Abubakar and Ifeanyi Okowa as the 2023 presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively.
The crisis has pitched Governors Nyesom Wike, Samuel Ortom, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie Ikpeazu, and Seyi Makinde of Rivers, Benue, Enugu, Abia and Oyo states, against Atiku and Ayu, with the aggrieved party leaders insisting on the replacement of the national chairman with a southerner.
Already, the crisis has polarised different organs of the party, including the NWC. While some NWC members are queueing behind Wike, others are supporting the Atiku/Ayu camp.
Last week, the Wike camp announced withdrawal from the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PCC). The aggrieved party leaders, who are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to oust Ayu also stayed away from the inauguration of the campaign council on Wednesday.
Incidentally, the four NWC members, who did the refund, yesterday, are linked governors in the Wike camp.
Alapaja, in his letter to the National chairman, dated September 29, noted that he observed a “malicious story” in one of the national dallies alleging that NWC members have been allegedly induced to keep quiet over alleged corruption in the party.
According to him, “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 arty.
“I have my reservation about this money transferred into my account and for personal reasons wish to return it accordingly.”
Similarly, Orbih, in his letter, also addressed to the national chairman, noted that the said publication amongst others, alleged “that members of the NWC were offered N28 million to gloss over scandalous financial misappropriation. 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. | hereby notify you of my decision to pay back the money to the party’s account.”
Adagunodo, in his letter to Ayu, confirmed that N28,800,000, was credited to his account , said “ please be informed that the said payment has become a subject of media story and carried with bad intention by them.” Consequently, he noted that he has also refunded the money into the PDP account.
On her part, the women leader in a different letter dated 29th September, addressed to the party National Treasurer, entitled Refund of Funds into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) account stated “if you may recall, the sum of Twenty Eight Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Nalra (N28,800,000.00) only was paid into my Account on the 14th of September, 2022.
“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.
“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’s Group on the other side.
“In addition some National Newspapers/Social Media Platforms have also carried stories accusing the NWC 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 the sum of Twenty Eight Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Naira (N28,800,000.00) Only, earlier paid into my Bank Account
“At an appropriate time when things normalize, whatever is due to me as my House Rent could be paid to me.”