Buhari’s Extradition Plan: Anxiety Grips PDP Chieftains
Prominent leaders and members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have been hit by anxiety following reports that some chieftains of the opposition party may be extradited home to come and face trial for alleged corruption.
President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to join about 59 other world leaders in London later this month to sign an agreement to check stealing of public funds by government officials.
Sources say he will use the opportunity to seek the extradition of some ex-government officials and PDP chieftains who are currently residing abroad to come and answer questions about their role in the Jonathan administration.
Such include the immediate past Comptroller-General of Customs, Abdullahi Dikko; ex-Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro; ex-Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; and former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu.
Others are Diezani’s son, Ugonna; a former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Force, Abdulrasheed Maina; ex-Senior Political Adviser to ex-President and Coordinator of Goodluck Support Group, Prof. Rufai Alkali and immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, who is being allegedly investigated over $1.1bn Malabu Oil deal.
A well placed source at the PDP National Secretariat, Abuja told The Nation that party chieftains have been making endless phone calls to the secretariat for information about the reported extradition plan of the presidency.
“Although, nothing official has been said about the report, I can assure you that the leadership and chieftains of the PDP are aware of the development,” the source said.
“On Friday, following the emergence of the report on the social media, several calls were made by prominent members and leaders of the party from all over the country to ask if the report is true and if the party was aware.
“Discussion of the matter dominated our activities here on Friday. Many wanted to know how the party plans to respond to the move. But like I said, nothing official has been said about it because the report broke late on Friday and we are yet to discuss it.”
The Nation also learnt that a meeting of prominent PDP chieftains may come up in Abuja tomorrow to discuss the report and how the party should react to it. Party leaders, chieftains and serving political office holders are expected to attend the parley which sources claimed was mooted last Friday.
“I guess from discussions here on Friday that something like a stakeholders meeting may take place on Monday or thereabout to discuss the report. Many chieftains are worried by what they fear may be a renewed attempt to hunt down the opposition by the federal government.
“Some of the people you and I know may be affected by an extradition agreement of the magnitude we read about are leading lights of the opposition. One can only wonder why such a move is necessary when the alleged corruption charges are already in various courts here in Nigeria,” another source, a party official from the South-south, said.
The Nation also gathered that most of the PDP chieftains currently worrying their heads over the report are scared about the possible fall outs from the responses of the fleeing individuals when they are eventually questioned.
“The anxiety within PDP is not just concerns over the well being of the affected persons, it goes beyond that. At a time when the party is trying to pick the pieces of its unceremonious exit from Aso Rock and move on in preparation for 2019, it is unhealthy for more details of our shoddy past to be exposed. And that is what will happen should the extradition happen.
“Some of us continue to appeal to concerned persons who participated in the looting of the past to come forward willingly and negotiate with the authorities. That way, the scandalous effect on our party will be minimized.
“But I don’t want to image the effect of what those expected to be extradited will say on PDP. Many more chieftains will be dragged into the net by the time these people open their mouth. And the sensationalism will further hurt our party,” a female PDP chieftain from Lagos State said.
Meanwhile, a political associate of the former Minister for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, who pleaded for anonymity, has said the politician will not allow himself forced back home to be persecuted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) government.
He said Obanikoro is innocent of the allegations being bandied against him and there is no way the plot to extradite him will succeed.
He said: “In the first place, which of the numerous allegations against Koro (the former minister’s moniker) has been investigated and taken to a competent court of law? So, why do you expect him to surrender himself for extradition by the same government that is not hiding its readiness to nail him at all cost?
“One thing we are happy about is that out there, there is a reliable legal system that can be exploited to ensure sanity. That is the solace we have and Koro will make adequate use of that opportunity. All you hear them say about him are mere slanderous attempts to get him at all cost. We will see how they will succeed,” the source, a former Council boss in Lagos State, said.
A pressure group within the PDP, PDP Rebirth Project (RPP), has condemned reported plans by the federal government to seek the extradition of some leaders of the opposition party currently residing abroad. The group also urged world leaders to be wary of supporting any extradition request from the Buhari administration.
The group, which is in the fore front of the agitation against the continued stay of Senator Alli Modu Sheriff as the national chairman of the party, in a statement in Abuja yesterday, said its decision to oppose the extradition move should not be seen as an obstruction of justice but a move to ensure that opposition figures are no longer persecuted.
According to RPP, it is ironic that the affected PDP leaders have summarily been tried and found guilty by Buhari and his party without being arraigned before any competent court of law. Now, they want to bring them home to be punished according to the dictates of the ruling party.”
Signed by its chairman and Secretary, Emma Wodu and Aderemi Coker, respectively, the statement noted further that “the PDP leaders Musiliu Obanikoro, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Adamu Mu’azu and Mohammed Adoke are not fugitives. If the government has any case against them, let such be taken before a court of law.”