The crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the removal of the National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, has taken a turn for the worse, as six members of the National Working Committee of the party have returned huge sums of money paid into their accounts in “the guise of house rents” due to them.
Those that have returned the alleged bribe paid to them from the “proceeds of the N10bn sale of nomination forms” include the Deputy National Chairman (South), Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, who refunded N36m to the party’s account; National Vice Chairman South-South, Chief Dan Orbih (N28m); National Woman Leader, Prof. Stella Effah-Attoe (N28m); National Vice Chairman South-East, Dr Alli Odefa (N28m); National Vice Chairman South-West, Olasoji Adagunobi-Oluwatukesi (N28m) and Deputy National Secretary, Setonji Koshoedo (N28m).
The fresh crisis started when questions were raised on how the bulk of the over N10bn realised by the party from nomination fees paid by aspirants have been spent.
To douse tension, it was learnt that the leadership of the party instructed that each NWC member be paid N28m, apparently to gloss over the huge cash in order not to cause any fresh crisis in the party.
The affected NWC members were also caught unawares that the party’s presidential flagbearer, Atiku Abubakar allegedly made N1 billion available to the party before the presidential primaries.
PDP had fixed its presidential nomination form and expression of interest forms for N40 million, governorship N21 million, Senate N3.5 million, House of Representatives N2.5 million and House of Assembly N600, 000.
According to a letter addressed to the National Chairman of the party, which was obtained by this newspaper titled: Return of N36m housing allowance paid into my account, Arapaja said he refunded the money because the circumstance under which the money was transferred to his account was not clear.
The signed letter by Arapaja read in full, “I observed a malicious story reported in The Nations newspaper of 26th September 2022, where it was alleged that members of the National Working Committee of the party were offered humungous amount of money to silent us over an allegation of financial misappropriation to the tune of N15bn.
“This led me to browse through my various alerts and I discovered a transfer of N36m from the party. I have my reservation about this money transferred into my account and for personal reasons I wish to return it accordingly. Kindly confirm the receipt of UBA electronic transfer of my N36m attached herewith.”
Similarly, Orbih also stated, “My attention has been drawn to a damaging trending story in the Nation newspaper of September 26, 2022, titled: Disquiet in PDP NWC over N10bn nomination fees. Among several allegations, the story alleged that members of the NWC were offered N28m to gloss over scandalous financial misappropriation.
“To my shock and surprise, it has been confirmed to me by my bank that the sum of N28m 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.”
The other four NWC members also refunded the money in like sums.