Pulse has been asking questions about the alleged freeze of Peter Obi's bank accounts as told by the PDP. This is what we found out so far.
On Saturday, December 8, 2018, spokesperson of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Director, Media and Publicity of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Kola Ologbondiyan, announced to the world that an unnamed anti-graft agency had frozen the bank accounts of PDP presidential running mate in the 2019 elections, Peter Obi.
“All discerning Nigerians know that the reasons for an investigation on a man like Peter Obi, is a journey to nowhere aimed to stifle him of funds as well as attempt to distract our campaign and divert attention from the failures of the Buhari administration”, Ologbondiyan wrote in a widely circulated press statement.
The statement added that: “It is ludicrous that President Buhari would continue to condone the looting of our treasuries by his party leaders and the cabal in his presidency, which even, the First Lady had even alluded to, only to be using government agencies to attempt to blackmail our presidential and vice presidential candidates whose reputations stand clear before all Nigerians”.
The story about the freeze on Obi’s accounts by the Buhari led federal government immediately went viral, with foreign news outlets and wire services latching onto it within minutes.
However, Pulse can report that the claim from the PDP may just be fake news.
Tony Orilade, spokesperson for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the anti-graft agency tasked with the responsibility of stemming illicit financial flows and placing a lid on accounts suspected of housing proceeds of corruption, told Premium Times that his agency is not responsible for the freeze.
“There is nowhere the EFCC is mentioned in this statement. The EFCC is a law abiding agency and committed to ridding the nation of economic and financial crimes. That, we would not relent to do.
“But let nobody cry wolf where none exists. Please direct your question to the author of the statement; and please let us not speak in parables. And let the media not interpret out of context,”Orilade was quoted as saying.
Rasheedat Okoduwa, spokesperson of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), also told Premium Times that the agency wasn’t involved in the freeze of Obi’s bank accounts. Which begs the question: who was?
While working on this story, Pulse reached out to PDP spokesperson Ologbondiyan, but his phone rang repeatedly with no one picking up on the other end of the line. A text message sent his way had also not been replied before this story was published.
Pulse also rang the mobile of Obi, but he wasn’t available to pick up his phone as well, several attempts after. A call placed to the mobile of acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, returned with the familiar "phone number is switched off" voice message.
It’s been 72 hours since the PDP claimed Obi’s bank accounts have been frozen. Obi has issued no statement to corroborate his party’s version of events in that span and no one has been able to reach him. Politicians whose bank accounts have been illegally frozen, are never this quiet. Ask Fayose.
And Obi is not one to go quiet in the face of perceived injustice.
With no evidence from the anti-graft agencies or from Obi’s camp to back up the freezing of accounts claim as put forward by the PDP, Pulse submits that the story should be treated as a fabrication at this time and dismissed as just another election season propaganda.