The ruling People’s Democratic Party(PDP) has distanced itself from the trial of Mahmud Tukur, the son of its national chairman, Bamanga Tukur, who is facing charges alongside dozens of others over multibillion naira fuel subsidy fraud.
The younger Mr. Tukur was arraigned on Thursday before a Lagos High Court after repeated rescheduling of the arraignment of the first batch of offenders indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
They were however granted bail ahead of a trial set for November 13, 2012.
The ruling PDP wrestled with concerns whether the involvement of the younger Mr. Tukur and the company he heads, Eterna Oil, in the huge scam had any bearing on the integrity of either his father or the party he leads.
At a media conference in Abuja Thursday, the party’s Deputy National Chairman, Sam Jaja, said the trial involved individuals and that Mr. Tukur was “up to age” to answer to his questions.
“PDP did not send anybody to go and misbehave,” Mr. Jaja said.
“Even if you mention my Chairman’s son, he is up to age, assuming he is to go to jail they will not come and jail the National Chairman, because he did not send him. He is a man of age and he has household, he has his family, everybody account for his own position.”
He however said it was clear as suspects, those named- involving over 140 persons- remained innocent until proven guilty. They party will not condemn or exonerate those accused at this stage, but will take a position after they may have been found guilty, he said.
“They will be given equal opportunity to defend themselves in competent court of law,” he said.
Mr. Tukur was granted bail alongside Ochonogor Alex, Abdullahi Alao, Christian Taylor, and Mamman Nasir Ali, who is the son of Ahmadu Ali, former chairman of PDP, and former chairman of the board of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
The men are a part of the first group of 20 fuel fraud suspects unveiled by the EFCC on Tuesday. They are accused of fraudulently drawing hundreds of billions of naira of government subsidy funding, without importing the products.
On the impeachment threat initiated by the House of Representatives against President Goodluck Jonathan over poor budget performance, the party said the standoff was “no threat”.
The party said it was normal with a democracy and that the party’s concern will be to resolve the concerns of the two arms without overruling the grievances of any party.
“It is not a fluke that they are not making any sense, it is not also a fluke that the president is making error that requires impeachment,” Mr. Jaja said.
“At times we over bloat these things, but the party has setup machineries to look into all the grievances of the members of the National Assembly and what is the position of the President.
“There must be an area for the two parties to meet and this thing should be resolved for the interest of democracy in this country. So there is no threat actually, as it were it is the usual thing that happens in any democratic process.”