National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday, confirmed reports that he was interviewed by officers of the Department of State Services (DSS) aka State Security Service (SSS) last Sunday, over corruption allegations arising from the recently concluded primaries in the ruling party.
But he downplayed suggestions that he was “arrested” saying “it was an interaction and not interrogation. I drove there in my car and returned in my car. The conversation centered around APC primaries. The question now is whether or not it is the DSS job to interfere in a political party’s issues. And if there’s an allegation of corruption, it is the responsibility of EFCC and ICPC.”
He dismissed calls by the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for his arrest, and for the president not to shield him, as ridiculous. He said if the tables were turned and it had been PDP Chairman Uche Secondus who had been invited by the DSS, petitions would have been tabled before the UN by now.
The Nation had reported yesterday that Oshiomhole was held hostage at the DSS at the behest of some governors and other forces within the party, and that the officers demanded that he resign as APC national chairman on account of the allegations of malpractices made against him.
He, however, stood his ground and rebuffed all pressure mounted on him to step down – insisting he committed no crime.
Speaking yesterday with media executives in Lagos, Oshiomhole stated that it was inconceivable for DSS officers to have made such a demand of him.
“It is inconceivable that Department of State Services’ officials or directors will ask the chairman of a political party whether of the right or of the left, whether of the opposition or of the governing party to resign, because the party has its own structure,” he said. “If I were to resign, will I be addressing the letter to the director? Or will I be addressing the letter to someone through the director?”
He equally denied reports that following last Sunday’s visit to the security agency, he returned there again during the week.
Concerning the grievances of Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun and his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha, whose preferred aspirants lost out in the primaries’ process, the APC chairman said there was nothing personal to his disagreement with governors. He acknowledged the support of Okorocha who he said was present at his declaration and gave him very vocal backing thereafter. But he would not let friendship get in the way of the enforcement of the party’s guidelines.
He further said he was very close friends with Amosun, but said the governor’s case was fundamentally flawed by the fact that his preferred candidate didn’t take part in the primaries conducted by the supervisory panel set up by the National Working Committee (NWC).
Oshiomhole pointed out that unlike Amosun’s favoured aspirant Adekunle Akinlade, the governor subjected himself to the National Assembly primaries organised by the official panel from the APC headquarters and won. Consequently, his name has been forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as one of the party’s three senatorial candidates in Ogun State.
With regards to the situation in Zamfara State where INEC has refused to accept the party’s nominee for the governorship election, on the grounds that APC failed to conduct its primaries before the deadline day, he restated his belief that the courts would prevail on the electoral body to accept that name of the ruling party’s candidate. He said there was ample evidence to show that the primaries process was concluded before the window slammed shut.
Reacting to reports that the party had been weakened in Ogun and Imo because of the disputes over the governorship ticket, Oshiomhole claims that the reverse was the case. “We are much stronger now. There are people who wouldn’t have voted for us if we had allowed some of the governors to foist their preferred choices on the party,” he said.
He said the possibility that some of those who lost out could move to other platforms to run, could not be ruled out as people are always defecting from one side to another. Still he insists that many would still vote for the APC because of their attraction to the character and integrity of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Despite the bitter public exchanges with prominent party members in recent times, Oshiomhole says the process of reconciliation is ongoing. He expects the party’s eventual candidates in contentious states like Ogun, Imo and Zamfara, to reach out and win the backing and confidence of their state governors.
He further stated that as part of the reconciliation process, some of the aggrieved who lost out during the primaries, could be given opportunities to serve in the Federal Government controlled by the APC.