Some members of the executive of Plateau State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which you are its leader, recently issued a press statement in which they announced that you and your deputy’s suspension from the party over alleged diversion of the party’s presidential campaign funds, funds meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as well as retreat funds. What is your response to the development?
It is a known fact that the 16 members of the party’s executive are being sponsored by a third force to cripple petitions at the election tribunal because we have come across a very reliable information that their action is being sponsored by a third force to cripple the very promising petitions at the election tribunal. They raised the issue of campaign council, but the governorship candidate was the co-chairman of the campaign council. So, nothing was shrouded in secrecy and the funds sent to the state for the presidential election, which they alleged were diverted were appropriately reported to the State Campaign Council.
The template was also discussed and approved by the Campaign Council. It was not to be reported to the party since it was the party that constituted the council. In addition, the funds were not signed for and collected by the party chairman or his deputy as alleged. Rather, the funds were rightly signed for and collected by a team led by the gubernatorial candidate, and this was disclosed in full to the State Campaign Council.
How about the fund for the IDPs?
On the money for the Internally Displaced Persons, it is true that the deputy chairman was chairman of the committee handling the IDP funds. Other members were Vice Chairman, Northern Senatorial Zone, Hon. Chris Hassan; State Organising Secretary, Yabuku Chocho; chairmanship candidate of Jos North Local Government Area, Hon. Aminu Zang; Vice Chairman Central Zone, Hon. Benedict Shignuhul and Assistant State Secretary of the party, Hon Felix Penswang who was also the Secretary of the committee.
The sum of N3.1 million was realised from various contributors. The committee then made Hon Penswang as chairman of the sub-committee to buy the items. His members were the State Financial Secretary Mrs. Mary Adargar and PDP Chairman of Jos North Local Government Area, Aminu Abdullah. The entire money was handed over to Hon. Penswang, who bought the materials and reported back to the main committee. But the materials were not distributed. As far as we are concerned what happened to the materials afterwards can best be explained by the chairman of the three-member committee, Hon Pienswang, who signed the letter suspending me as the State Chairman party as well as the State Deputy Chairman, Hon. Amos Gombi.
Let me make a clarification; the presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, came to Plateau State and pledged the sum of N10 million for the IDPs. He redeemed the pledged and the money went straight to Gbong Gwom Jos because it affects most of the areas in his domain. Again I want to state that the money for the retreat amounting to N2.6 million and other funds of the party were domiciled in Sterling Bank and these sums were garnished by a court order on all PDP accounts, national and state, following a judgement against the national secretariat of the party.
This situation has been consistently reported at the State Executive Council (SEC) and State Working Committee (SWC) meetings. The Chairman of the Retreat Committee, Hon Chris Hassan, who is illegally being touted as the Acting Chairman of the part, is very much in the know of these facts and cannot claim ignorance of same.
How will you defend yourself on the alleged compromise during 2019 general elections, which according to those who suspended you, led to the failure of PDP in Plateau State?
Let me correct an impression; PDP did not lose election and I don’t how a chairman of a party that will install a governor will trade off the mandate of not only party members, but the people of the state. I will be a Judas if I do that and I don’t deserve to be in this office. So, all these are women tales! I want to just make it clear to you that if there was something like that, they would have put it in their petition and that would have carried more weight at the national level because anti-party is a capital offence in party politics. So, there was no anti-party activity in their petition.
Do you think the National Secretariat of the PDP is aware of the political development in the state, and if yes, what is its stand?
Yes, the national secretariat of the party is aware because it has taken the petition. All they have done is to complain, but I am still the chairman of the party and also a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and based on the provision of the party’s constitution, only the NEC has the power to sanction the state chairman. So, what they did was a petition not suspension because they don’t have the right to suspend me and my deputy.
Those who suspended you also accused you of highhandedness and disregard for elders of the party. How true is this?
The constitution of the party has a provision for Elders Forum and the forum holds its meetings. We invited members of the forum to an executive council meeting because the constitution specified clearly that nobody is excluded and the governorship candidate can attest to that. We have been working hand in hand and I want to make it clear that my hands are clean, but the Leadership of the party and stakeholders are working hard to see how they will call elders to resolve the issue amicably.
Why did you and your deputy arbitrary substituted the legitimate candidate who won the primary election for Wase Federal Constituency as alleged by members of your executive?
The substitution was done based on the report of the Appeal Committee formed and sent by the national secretariat of the party. It was not a substitution made by the chairman, deputy or the state secretariat of the party. In any case, which election did PDP win in Wase since the party lost the presidential, senatorial, House of Representatives, governorship and house of Assembly elections in Wase?
Those who suspended you have also appointed an acting chairman of the party in the state, how will the two of you operate?
You see, for the avoidance of doubt, the State Executive Committee of the party, which set up the Campaign Council is made up of over 72 members. So, the 16 who signed the illegal suspension order cannot form a quorum to dissolve the council. This is another illegality and drawing from the relevant portions of the PDP constitution, Hon Chris Hassan cannot take over the reins of the party. Chapter 10 of the PDP constitution 2017 (as amended) spells out specific disciplinary procedures against officers, who are suspected of committing infractions against the party. Also, they cannot suspend a chairman, who is a member of the party’s NEC.
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