Shock, disbelief as fraud allegations unsettle Ayu, Atiku amid party crisis

Amidst weighty allegations of corruption hovering around his office, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Iyorchia Ayu is expected back to Nigeria today, Friday.

However, unlike when he departed the country to Europe with fanfare, that may not be said of his return trip as he is coming back to face a court of public opinion, with his colleagues in the National Working Committee, NWC, of the PDP making shocking revelations.

Barely one week ago, Governor of Rivers State, in what appears to be blowing the lead, had accused Ayu of engaging in corrupt practices.

However, not many took Wike’s allegations seriously, considering his long drawn war with the chairman ever since the party conducted its presidential primary election, which Wike lost to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Wike, answering questions from journalists, alleged that Ayu received N1 billion from one of the presidential hopefuls in the party.

He went further to say that Ayu is corrupt, and that the chairman cannot deny that he received the money but refused to remit it to the party’s account.

Ayu is very corrupt. I’m totally informed. Ayu has the opportunity to challenge me, I will name the person.

Some of the governors can tell you. Will he deny the fact that he didn’t collect N1 billion from Lagos? Let him deny it, I will tell him who gave him the money not from the Lagos state government, the money was given to him in Lagos.

“He met one of the presidential candidates and told him that he’s not sure these governors may want to sponsor the party.

“That money did not enter into the account of PDP, but we are not attacking Ayu on that basis.

That was a strong cannon shot from Wike but no reply came from Ayu who has been outside the country.

However, while Nigerians were still expecting Ayu to reacto the grave allegations, more can of worms were opened on Thursday, with at least four members of the Ayu-led NWC rejecting suspicious money paid into their accounts.

The money totalling over N122 million has already been returned to the PDP account, with each of the recipients dropping a note for Ayu.

Those who returned the money included the National Vice Chairman (South-West) Olasoji Adagunodo, the Deputy National Chairman (South) Taofeek Arapaja; National Vice Chairman (South), Chief Dan Orbih and National Women Leader, Prof. Stella Affah-Attoe.

Details in their letters show that Arapaja got N36 million, Adagunodo, Orbih and Effah-Attoe got N28.8 million each.

Orbih, in the letter he addressed to Ayu said, “My attention has been drawn to a damaging story reported in THE NATION Newspaper by Yusuf Alli on September 26, 2022 titled ‘Disquiet in PDP NW over N10 billion nomination fees.’ Amongst several other allegations, he 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. I hereby notify you of my decision to pay back the money to the party’s account.

“Kindly confirm receipt of Zenith Bank Manager’s cheques of: N10,000,000, N10,000,000, N8,800,000 TOTAL = N28,800,000 to the Party’s account. A/C: 1000095003, Globus Bank PLC.”

Other members of the NWC wrote similar letters to Ayu, indicating their rejection of the questionable fund.

One of them, Effah-Attoe said upon enquiry, she was told the money was meant for her two-year rent.

She, however, said phone calls from party members, friends, family members and the general public, were suggestive that the money was 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/ Wike’s Group on the other side.”

The development is said to have unsettled the PDP top hierarchy, including the camp of the presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who see the unfolding events as not good for the party, especially with the commencement of campaigns.

“Remember that one of the reasons the party was voted out in 2015 was owing to monumental corruption in governance; now this is happening.

“The feeling everywhere is that Wike has been proved right; there is disquiet everywhere.

This is happening at a very bad time because it will be difficult for the party to go and talk to the electorates about anti-corruption when its house is tainted with several unresolved fraud allegations.

Frankly, most of the party leaders are in shock over this development and the most honourable thing for the national chairman to do now is to resign. This is no longer about Wike. If Ayu has the interest of the party at heart, he should just give way.

“There is no way he can lead the party into a general election with this kind of baggage; it will be difficult to clean this mess before the election,” the top party source said.

As of the time of filing this report, there is still graveyard silence from the PDP leadership over these allegations.

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