Osh­iom­hole: My Con­ver­sa­tions with Depart­ment of State Se­cu­rity

Says no­body asked him to re­sign

THISDAY - - FRONT PAGE - Bayo Akin­loye

Against the back­ground of spec­u­la­tions re­gard­ing his where­abouts af­ter an al­leged en­counter with op­er­a­tives of the Depart­ment of State Se­cu­rity, (DSS), the Na­tional Chair­man of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC), Adams Osh­iom­hole, yes­ter­day spoke out about what tran­spired be­tween him and the DSS. Osh­iom­hole em­phat­i­cally de­nied be­ing ar­rested by the do­mes­tic in­tel­li­gence or­gan­i­sa­tion, as was widely spec­u­lated in the me­dia, but ex­plained that he was only in­vited for a chat and was nei­ther de­tained nor granted bail or asked to re­sign.

The APC na­tional chair­man, who made the clarifications dur­ing an in­ter­ac­tive ses­sion with se­nior ed­i­tors in La­gos, also said he did not flee the coun­try as claimed by his op­po­nents.

“I was in­vited and I hon­oured the in­vi­ta­tion by the DSS. I was not ar­rested. I was in­vited for a con­ver­sa­tion by the DSS con­cern­ing the APC pri­maries in some states. No­body asked me to re­sign. I went to the DSS to hon­our their in­vi­ta­tion and left af­ter­wards,” Osh­iom­hole stated.

It had been widely re­ported in the me­dia that Osh­iom­hole was de­tained by the DSS last Sun­day and grilled for nine hours af­ter some APC gover­nors al­leged that he re­ceived bribes from cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als in the rul­ing party dur­ing the party’s pri­mary elec­tions across the coun­try to in­flu­ence the list of can­di­dates sub­mit­ted to the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (INEC). It was fur­ther al­leged that the agency asked Osh­iom­hole to re­sign dur­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tion.

But the for­mer Edo State gover­nor said, “On the is­sue of cor­rup­tion, if the DSS in­vi­ta­tion had to do with cor­rup­tion, as it was al­leged, it wasn’t the job of the DSS to in­ves­ti­gate such. It’s the job of the ICPC or EFCC. The in­vi­ta­tion, there­fore, had noth­ing to do with cor­rup­tion. I was in­vited in re­la­tion to the party’s pri­maries and I hon­oured the in­vi­ta­tion. I had a con­ver­sa­tion with them and left. I was never ar­rested or grated bail.”

He added, “I merely hon­oured the in­vi­ta­tion and had a con­ver­sa­tion with the DSS. This is not the first time; they have come to my of­fice be­fore want­ing clarifications on is­sues and I’ve al­ways pro­vided them with any rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion in my pos­ses­sion.

“In any case, I’m the chair­man of a po­lit­i­cal party. I’m not an ap­pointee of the gov­ern­ment. So, it is not the job of the DSS – even though I’m al­ways will­ing to as­sist when nec­es­sary – to in­ves­ti­gate me, as­sum­ing the is­sue I was in­vited for has to do with cor­rup­tion, as it is be­ing por­trayed to the pub­lic. That’s the job of the EFCC, not the DSS.”

On the ques­tion of who came to pick him up at the DSS of­fice, Osh­iom­hole stated that he was the one who called Gover­nor Ya­haya Bello of Kogi State to come, but he didn't pick me up, I drove out the way I came in. He re­it­er­ated that since he be­came the chair­man of APC, the DSS had been to his of­fice be­fore “when­ever they have con­cerns re­quir­ing proper clarifications”.

Re­gard­ing the call by the op­po­si­tion Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) on the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Agency (NIA) and IN­TER­POL to track Osh­iom­hole down, as news spread about his en­couter with DSS, and in­sin­u­a­tion that he was on the run since his re­ported in­ter­ro­ga­tion. The for­mer pres­i­dent of the Nige­ria Labour Congress (NLC) re­torted that if the DSS had in­vited the chair­man of the op­po­si­tion party for spend­ing dol­lars dur­ing their con­ven­tion, “by now they would have been shout­ing that ‘this is the end of democ­racy!’. They would have been writ­ing pe­ti­tions to the United Na­tions, the EU and other in­ter­na­tional bod­ies.” Osh­iom­hole also spoke on the un­end­ing cri­sis in his party, say­ing the party is largely at peace, ex­cept for three states that have is­sues con­cern­ing their pri­mary. He re­gret­ted that the is­sue was be­ing blown out of pro­por­tion pos­si­bly be­cause of the cal­i­bre of peo­ple in­volved.

He stated, “Some peo­ple are un­happy be­cause they didn’t have their way in three states. We have said that things must change. We can­not con­tinue in the old ways. When we said change, maybe some peo­ple in­ter­preted it dif­fer­ently: change from one party to an­other. But what we meant was change from the old ways of do­ing things. We can­not con­tinue in the old ways. We are go­ing to stick to what we are do­ing so peo­ple will know that cer­tain things just can't con­tinue as be­fore.”

Osh­iom­hole had last week come un­der at­tack by some prom­i­nent mem­bers of his party, es­pe­cially Gover­nor Ibikunle Amo­sun of Ogun State, Gover­nor Rochas Oko­rocha of Imo State, and Gover­nor Ab­du­laziz Yari of Zam­fara State, re­spec­tively, who re­jected the out­come of the re­cent pri­maries. The trio ac­cused the APC na­tional chair­man of deep­en­ing the ex­ist­ing schism in the party, whose pri­maries were marred by con­tro­versy. Elec­tions in some states had to be re­peated. For ex­am­ple, in Zam­fara, INEC said the party would not par­tic­i­pate in the 2019 polls be­cause it could not suc­cess­fully con­clude its pri­mary elec­tion be­fore the dead­line.

In Imo, the APC favoured the gov­er­nor­ship can­di­dacy of Hope Uzodimma, who is cur­rently sen­a­tor rep­re­sent­ing Imo West, over Uche Nwosu, son-in-law of Oko­rocha. In Ogun State, Amo­sun fell out with the party’s Na­tional Work­ing Com­mit­tee (NWC) af­ter it chose Dapo Abio­dun as the state’s gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date. Abio­dun Akin­lade was Amo­sun’s pre­ferred can­di­date.

Osh­iom­hole was largely blamed for the gover­nors’ or­deal.

But dur­ing the in­ter­ac­tive ses­sion yes­ter­day, Osh­iom­hole rhetor­i­cally asked those who ac­cused him of tak­ing bribes to work against the gover­nors if it wouldn’t have been eas­ier for him to col­lect money from the gover­nors, who ob­vi­ously had huge elec­tion war chest to sup­port their nom­i­na­tions.

Sim­i­larly, last week, a chief­tain of the APC and Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral of Voice of Nige­ria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, asked Osh­iom­hole to re­sign to save the party from fur­ther em­bar­rass­ment.

Speak­ing against the back­ground of al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion aris­ing from the re­cent party pri­maries, Okechukwu said Osh­iom­hole’s exit would re­move a heavy bur­den from the party. He also urged the DSS and EFCC to im­me­di­ately probe the re­cent call logs of Osh­iom­hole. Ad­dress­ing a press con­fer­ence at the party’s na­tional sec­re­tar­iat, Okechukwu said it was im­por­tant for Osh­iom­hole to re­sign to save APC and Buhari’s re-elec­tion bid.

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