The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said on Saturday that the bank accounts of its vice-presidential candidate, Peter Obi, had been frozen by the Buhari administration, saying the development followed relentless harassments of the politician’s family members by supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress.
But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Nigeria’s leading anti-graft departments, denied freezing Mr Obi’s account, with the EFCC spokesperson telling PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday night that there was no truth in the claim.
The PDP spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement that the opposition party decried the “stoppage of transactions on all accounts belonging” to Mr Obi, “his wife, his family members and their businesses by agencies of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.”
Mr Ologbondiyan’s statement was silent on the specific agencies responsible for the purported restrictions, and his telephone line failed to connect after repeated attempts by PREMIUM TIMES Saturday night.
Although the EFCC emphasised that it should not be suspected as the department responsible for the alleged freeze, especially as the PDP failed to mention any agency, it nonetheless emphasised its commitment to professionalism in the course of curbing endemic corruption in the country.
“There is no where 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 non exist. 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,” EFCC spokesperson Tony Orilade said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES.
Rasheedat Okoduwa, a spokesperson for the ICPC, also said the agency was not responsible for any purported blocking of accounts run by Mr Obi.
Although the EFCC has since inception in the early 2000s been known to regularly freeze bank accounts of persons identified in corruption investigations, there have been wrong claims about restrictions on bank accounts of politicians.
In the run up to the governorship election in Osun State, PDP candidate Ademola Adeleke raised false claims that the family’s bank accounts were frozen.
Some PDP governors have also made claims, without supporting evidence, that their states’ bank accounts were blocked by the EFCC, only for the anti-graft office to strongly deny the claim.
Mr Ologbondiyan in his statement said the restriction placed on Mr Obi’s accounts capped a string of harassments he had endured since emerging as the runningmate to Atiku Abubakar in mid-October.
“Since his nomination, Peter Obi, apart from facing series of failed attempts by the APC to destroy his reputation, has also continued to receive all manners of threats and blackmail, including threats to his life and those of his wife and children,” the PDP said.
Mr Ologbondiyan said the Buhari administration would be embarking on a futile endeavour if it believes stringent investigation of Mr Obi would yield anything meaningful for prosecution, saying the presidential candidate ran a frugal government and left over N75 billion in state account as governor of Anambra State between 2006 and 2014.