The polity was gripped by fresh tension yesterday following the emergence of a curious watch list purportedly sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by the Presidency.
The EFCC dismissed the list as fake and said it did not emanate from it.
The list alleged to be from the Chief of Staff to the President, Brigadier General Jones Arogbofa (rtd) directed the EFCC to probe key opposition figures in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).
They are ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Speaker Aminu Tambuwal; Sen. Bukola Saraki; Governors Rotimi Amaechi, Adams Oshiomhole, Aliyu Wammako, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Abdulfatah Ahmed, and Sen. Danjuma Goje.
Others are the Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in Taraba State, Sen. Aisha Jummai Alhassan; the Governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Movement(PDM) in Adamawa State, Dr. Ahmed Modibbo(Ex-Executive Secretary of UBEC); and a former Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufai; Executive Secretary, PPPRA, Farouk Ahmed; CBN Deputy Governor (Operations ), Suleiman Barau; Managing Director, NPA, Habib Abdullahi; DG, NCAA, Capt. Mukhtar Usman; MD of NDIC, Umaru Ibahim; GED, Business Development of NNPC, Attahiru Yusuf; and the GED, Commerce and Investment of NNPC, Aisha Abdulrahman.
The list which the social media quoted with relish yesterday has generated serious controversy despite the denial of the EFCC. Some political commentators and members of the opposition parties were of the view that nothing “ is beyond the presidency.”
” We have nothing to hide. Why have they waited till now if their motive is genuine ? Atiku and Tinubu left office in 2007 ,Goje and Saraki ceased to be governors in 2011, they have all been in the country and nobody has invited them for questioning as regards their time in office. We know the game they are up to, “ a leading opposition politician said yesterday.
The purported memo directed EFCC to ”clandestinely investigate the personal and official finances of the following present and former government functionaries and report back by the 16th of March.
But the EFCC disowned the said letter in circulation, and claimed that it did not emanate from it.
The Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, told reporters in Abuja that the memo was not only fake but was intended to ”create the impression that President Goodluck Jonathan wants to use the EFCC to witch-hunt opposition figures.”
“The EFCC has not received such a letter from the presidency and it has not got any directive to witch-hunt any person and this commission under the leadership of Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde does not engage in vendetta. We do a professional job; we are not tele-guided by anyone or group.”
Uwujaren showed reporters a memo from the Presidency,pointing out the difference between the features on the ‘genuine’ and ‘fake’ letterheads.
The APC had, on February 28, raised the alarm that its leaders were “being targeted by the Presidency and the PDP in a planned security clampdown ahead of the forthcoming elections.”
It said at the time that the clampdown would be carried out by the Department of State Security (DSS).
The aim was to scuttle or rig the elections in favour of the ruling party,it said,adding that under the alleged plan, the DSS had “directed its state commands to compile and submit a list of stake holders and key communicators of the opposition party in all the local government areas across the country.
“The state commands were also directed to identify polling units and wards that are dominated by the opposition party’s supporters,especially in the units they scored above 60 per cent during the 2011 general elections.
“Three thousand and eight officers and men of the DSS have been shortlisted to undergo intensive training in shooting and weapon handling in preparation for the operation.”
The APC also said warrants of arrest may have been procured in respect of those to be taken into custody ,and detention facilities prepared for them.
It was gathered that security agencies have been directed to start digging deep into the past records and activities of those for arrest with a view to “uncovering their negative antecedents that could be used against them.”
Also on Thursday,Asiwaju Tinubu alleged plans by the Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to eliminate or frame him up in a murder case before the coming elections.
His Media Office said in Lagos that the motive was to halt the momentum the APC presidential standard bearer, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, is gathering, ahead of the March 28 and April 11 elections.
It said the Presidency and the PDP were out to implicate the eminent politician and remove him from circulation with a view to weakening his political influence nationwide and undermine his leadership in the politics of Southwest geo-political zone, which is perceived as the deciding factor during the presidential election.
“ This part of the plot has two options. The first is to employ trained snipers to attack Tinubu or assassinate him out right. This plan is consistent with the warning made by former President Obasanjo in his now famous 2014 letter to President Jonathan. Those within the PDP favouring this approach argue that when Chief Bola Ige, a powerful politician, was murdered, heavens did not fall, although the former President, is a Yoruba man,” it said.
“The second option is more crafty. The PDP will seek to resuscitate the case of the murder of Funso Williams, a former Lagos State governorship candidate, by blaming Tinubu for the killing. They are already coaching inmates and others. They are offering them the promise of early release and money, if they will make statements implicating Tinubu in the Williams murder. The Presidency intends to rush through this process with the hope of putting Tinubu out of circulation by trapping him in a contrived criminal process, until the elections are over.”
Chiding the PDP for desperation, the Tinubu media office said the ruling party resorted to the option of planning to liquidate Tinubu, following the failure of its design to fracture the APC.
It added: “The PDP and Jonathan Presidency had recently tried to fracture the APC by offering Tinubu the position of the Vice President in an interim government, if he would agree to part company with the popular Buhari. Once Tinubu rebuffed the offer to participate in the interim scheme, the Presidency decided to change tactics. It would no longer try to entice Tinubu with sugar, but would now move to silence and, if necessary, neutralise him.”
Noting that the APC National Leader has caused President Jonathan’s team sleepless nights during the electioneering, it said the hostility against him peaked, following his rejection of the offer to participate in the proposed interim government.
Tinubu, according to the media office, has asserted himself as a legitimate opposition leader through his prolific, robust and strident criticism of government’s socio-economic and security policies.
It stressed: “They blame him as the man who is most responsible for placing them in their current electoral quandary. They believe without Tinubu’s efforts, the successful merger of the political parties into the APC would not have occurred and they would not be facing possible defeat at the hands of this new party.
“The PDP faces its stiffest competition ever in 16 years and the person they blame the most is Tinubu, the major actor, who is seen as the strategic mind of the new party and one person who must be stopped at all cost. General Buhari has since been pencilled down for similar character assassination and vicious insults alongside other leaders of the APC.”
The media office recalled previous plots to dent Tinubu’s image by dredging discredited claims of illicit wealth to silence him.
It said when the plot to disgrace the former governor at the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) collapsed, the Presidency and the PDP opted for new plots to throw the APC into disarray to brighten its prospects of winning the election.
The media office said that Tinubu will not take these threats, plots and revelations lightly because of what it described as the government’s capacity for devilish acts.
At his press conference yesterday,Uwujaren also denied allegations by the Director, Media and Publicity, of the Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organization, Mallam Garba Shehu, that the leadership of the EFCC was corrupt and insensitive to the welfare of staff.
He said there was never any disagreement between the Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde and the Secretary to the agency, Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo.
He said: “The EFCC is alarmed by this claim. The chairman of the Commission is respected in the law enforcement circles for his integrity and professionalism. He values his reputation which he built over the years and, it will be a great disservice to seek to rubbish him on the altar of politics. “There is no evidence of corruption, either in the past or present, against the EFCC chair.”
Uwujaren said the EFCC staff were not being owed salaries.
The EFCC last night issued a statement asking the public to ignore what it called a fake letter from the Chief of Staff to President Goodluck Jonathan in circulation.
The commission released an authentic letter from the Office of the Chief of Staff to draw attention to the difference between the ‘genuine’ letterhead of the Presidency and the ‘fake’ one purportedly from Aso Villa.
The commission’s spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren,in a stamen said “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC wishes to alert the public about a letter supposedly from the office of the Chief of Staff to President Goodluck Jonathan, mandating the commission to initiate discreet investigation against some prominent political figures in the country.
“The commission urges the public to discountenance the said letter as it is forged document, intended to mislead the people.
“The features of the letter are markedly different from that on a genuine letter from the office of the Chief of Staff to the president.
“As evidence that this is a clear forgery, we reproduce below the fake letter alongside a copy of an authentic letter from the same office.”