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Nigeria’s Opposition Won't Defend Spokesman in Corruption Allegations

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari gives an interview to Agence France-presse at his hotel during the 25th African Summit on June 14, 2015 in Johannesburg.

A spokesman for Nigeria’s main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is denying the party has thrown its national publicity secretary under the bus in the face of President Muhammadu Buhari’s war on corruption.

Two weeks ago, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested and charged PDP national spokesman Olisa Metuh with seven counts of corruption.

Metuh is accused of receiving about $2 million (400 million naira) from what a court called “illegal activity” of former National Security Adviser Mohammed Sambo Dasuki and then depositing the money into his personal bank account.

The money was reportedly destined for the fight against Boko Haram.

Metuh claims the money was intended for political activities of the then-ruling PDP.

Deny responsibility

But Abdullahi Jalo, deputy PDP national spokesman, said the party cannot take responsibility for the allegations against Metuh and others because the money they are accused of taking was never deposited into an official PDP bank account, but rather into their personal bank accounts.

“Let us call a spade a spade," Jalo said. "There is money allocated to purchase arms to fight Boko Haram, which is an act of the National Assembly, and then instead of the money to be used properly, there is an allegation by EFCC that out of this money Olisa Metuh has collected 400 million naira, our former PDP Board of Trustees Chairman, Tony Anenih has collected 252 million naira.

"So there is a lot of money collected indiscriminately without the party knowing,” he said.

Jalo said the public must separate the company Destra Investment Limited, for which Metuh allegedly collected the money, from the PDP, which is a political party.

“PDP has no hand as a party; it has not sent Olisa or any other person to go and collect money on its behalf because PDP is a political party. It doesn’t do contracts. If any money is to be given to PDP, it must go into the account of the PDP,” Jalo said.

Anti-corruption move

The Buhari administration has vowed to reduce corruption in Nigeria by recovering “stolen” government money.

It has denied that its anti-corruption effort is a witch-hunt of former aides of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Metuh last Wednesday asked the court to begin his trial or release him from EFCC custody. The court rejected his request for a speedy hearing.