The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, has given the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed 48 hours to withdraw his name from the looters’ list or risked being dragged to the law court.
Responding to Secondus call to publish names of looters, Mohammed named Secondus as one of the one of the treasury looters in the immediate past administration, claiming he collected N200m from the office of the National Security Adviser in 2015.
However, a statement by Secondus’ Spokesperson, Ike Abonyi, in Abuja on Saturday, said that the PDP Chairman’s lawyer, Emeka Etiaba (SAN), has written Mohammed about it.
This even as former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, said his lawyers were reviewing the statement again for possible law suit to clear his name.
Secondus in the letter with reference number EESE&C/1/31/03/18 dated March 31, 2018 addressed to the Minister, demanded for retraction, apology and payment of N1.5bn as damages.
The lawyer alleged that the said publication “has damaged the image of Secondus as he has been humiliated, castigated and vilified by many as a result of the falsehood published by the minister.”
The letter asked Mohammad to note that if he fails to meet the demand after 48 hours, ”We shall within 72 hours from today, proceed to a court of competent jurisdiction to ventilate our clients right under the law and shall further seek the protection of the court against you.
Metuh, in a reaction to the list, said he had asked his lawyers to review the implications of this latest “attack” by the government and take appropriate steps for redress.
“In all, my faith is firm in God that this tyranny will not last forever and that no mortal is omnipotent in my matter,” he said in a statement on Saturday.
The former PDP spokesperson is currently on trial for collecting N400m from the former NSA but Mohammed said he collected the sum of N1.4bn from the office of the NSA.
Metuh said by the publication, by the Federal Government had breached the Nigerian constitution by seeking to burden him with two criminal trials on the same charge: one before Justice Okon Abang and the other before the media.
Metuh also said since his arrest on the January 5, 2016 and subsequent arraignment, he has refrained from publicly discussing his “persecution and travails by the government”.
However, he said, the present action of the government leaves him with no option “than to defend my name and integrity”.
He said “the charge against me is that I received the sum of N400 million from the Office of the National Security Adviser to carry out duties assigned to me as the then National Publicity Secretary of the PDP by then President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The major crux of the prosecution argument is that I ought to have known that the money was a part of an alleged and yet to be proven unlawful activity of Col Sambo Dasuki(rtd), former NSA to President Jonathan.
“The charge was brought regardless of the fact that neither President Jonathan who gave me the assignment and directed the release of the funds nor Col Dasuki(rtd), who effected the release of the funds have ever been interrogated nor even interviewed in this regard.
“As a matter of fact, officers of the office of the National Security Adviser have testified in court that the payment made to me followed all due process usually observed in the establishment,” he said.
“I have never held a government office and/or position and could not therefore have had any access to government funds.
“In view of the weakness of the case against me, the APC led Federal Government resorted to all kinds of dirty tactics to dehumanise and intimidate me.
“They have done everything humanly possible to ensure complete persecution starting from bringing me to court in handcuffs( and parading the capture of Nigeria’s most wanted) to media trials and constant interference with my case.
“I have been reliably informed that the Federal Government has ordered a conviction at all cost to ensure that the PDP is tainted before the elections.
“The government ‘s determination to achieve this objective is clearly highlighted by the refusal to allow me attend to my deteriorating health notwithstanding several expert medical opinion on the matter,” he said.
Metuh said by going to the media to name him a looter, the federal government has not only given a body language but has issued a direct intimidation and threat to the judiciary to get a compulsory conviction.
He said it is now clear that the APC led government “that thrives in impunity and intimidation of other arms of government” will not allow justice to be done in his matter.
He said Nigeria under the APC “ has descended into the worst form of draconian rule where the executive arm directly interferes and seeks to control and determine matters within the purview of the legislature and the judiciary”, he said.