By Olisemeka Obeche
Embattled national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole over the weekend expressed concerns over meddlesomeness of the State Security Service on the controversies trailing the party’s primaries.
The disclosure was made days after it was speculated in certain media that the former Edo governor allegedly fled the country after being detained and quizzed by the secret police over allegations that he pocketed billions of Naira through the controversial primaries across the country.
Oshiomhole who told select editors in Lagos on Saturday that he was questioned by the secret police last weekend in Abuja on issues bordering on the party’s recent primaries, stressed that the SSS was not the appropriate agency for such interrogation in a constitutional democracy, rather an anti-corruption agency.
Hear him: “The conversation centred around APC primaries. The question now is whether or not it is the DSS (SSS) job to interfere in a political party’s issues. And if there is an allegation of corruption, it is the responsibility of EFCC and ICPC,” Oshiomhole said.
The former national chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) also said he drove himself out of the SSS facility following interrogation, denying he was collected by Governor Yahaya Bello. He further disclosed that he traveled out of Nigeria on Tuesday, and responded to an alarm raised by the opposition People’s Democratic Party that he had absconded. The party also urged the Interpol and other security agencies to launch a manhunt for Oshiomhole.
The former governor accused the opposition party of being petty, saying it would not have tolerated its leaders being grilled by security agencies like he was made to endure.
Oshiomhole’s meeting with the editors comes a day after he returned to Nigeria from the United Kingdom, where he met with Bola Tinubu, a leader of the ruling party who had been undergoing treatment for undisclosed ailments in London.
Oshiomhole was reported to have been questioned by the SSS for nine hours on suspicion he had taken humongous bribes from APC politicians to manipulate the party’s primaries in favour of persons he preferred. The exercise held between September and October, producing the party’s candidates for presidential, governorship and legislative offices.
Several APC governors whom Mr. Oshiomhole apparently truncated their plans to nominate successors have been publicly fuming with the party chairman.
Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha and his Ogun state counterpart, Ibikunle Amosun, have been particularly furious, publicly accusing Oshiomhole of disregarding the party’s constitution in the conduct of primaries and demanding his immediate removal. Messrs. Amosun and Okorocha believe Oshiomhole had the backing of Mr. Tinubu, whose influence over party affairs is widely acknowledged even though he does not hold a formal position.
Mr Oshiomhole has denied allegations of fraud against him, and challenged those who have issues with his leadership to leave the party. But law enforcement and intelligence sources have said Oshiomhole has become a person of interest in recent weeks. “We have received strong new materials which suggested him as an interesting individual who should be thoroughly investigated,” an intelligence source said. “We have commenced work in that regard.”
Oshiomhole, who became the party’s chairman amidst controversial atmosphere in June, has been accused of taking bribes through political allies and blood relations to admit some politicians as the party’s candidates in 2019.
Some of his alleged proxies have been identified by law enforcement officers but the political undertone of the probe has made it difficult to determine when they would be called in for questioning, especially as it would require approval up to the presidency level to move against those involved, sources said.