Fact-checking Four Claims Made By Labour Party’s Kenneth Okonkwo On NTA

Quadri Yahya 

The spokesperson of the Labour Party (LP) presidential campaign council, Kenneth Okonkwo, on 24th January made some claims while appearing on Nigeria Television Authority (NTA’s) Tuesday Live, tagged; 2023 General Elections: Issue based Campaign. 

The programme aimed to discuss issues around campaign strategies of some candidates, which have been observed on attacking the personality of other contestants rather than addressing issues, according to the hosts. 

Claim 1

Ayu is the most corrupt national chairman.  

Verdict

Misleading. Although Ayu had been involved in a murky bribery allegation, he was not charged or indicted. 

Verification

Iyorchia Ayu is the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Ayu had denied a N1 billion bribery allegation leveled against him by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.

In September 2022, Wike had claimed Ayu collected the ‘bribe’ from a presidential hopeful at the time, Atiku Abubakar to curry the favor of National Working Committee (NWC) members for Atiku’s bid. He also accused Ayu of collecting N100 million from a PDP governor and collecting N100 million from PDP for the same project.

Wike was one of the aspirants in the party’s presidential race. But Atiku eventually clinched the ticket. 

The controversial alleged bribery came to the public after the party’s primary elections.   

No fewer than 6 members of the NWC accused Ayu of bribing them with millions.  

Ayu defended himself by saying the N1 billion was a proposed bank loan. He reportedly added that the loan proposal was to ensure the party has financial strength but the PDP leadership later dropped the idea after due consultations.

In a press briefing with journalists, the embattled PDP Chairman reportedly said, “On today’s (Wike) allegations (N100 million), I fully briefed the BoT that one of our governors made a contribution of 100 million for the revival of the PDI which was housed in a portacabin and I explained to them that we hired an appropriate place in Asokoro, we have furnished it, renovated it.”

Furthermore, Daily Trust reported that the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Debo Ologunagba said the allegation was not true.

Later in October when the PDP Board of Trustees dabbled into the rift between Wike and Ayu, the BoT suggested that the party’s chairman should resign after the 2023 elections.

As Ayu continued to make the headlines for the wrong reason at the time, Nigerians made a call to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission to probe the PDP Chairman. 

The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) as well as a socio-political group, Res­cue Nigeria Economy Proj­ect, including some members of the PDP urged the anti-graft agency, EFCC to summon Ayu. 

EFCC, however, refused to heed to the plea to probe the accused politician, Ayu. 

Claim 2

Muhammad Abubakar, the Inspector-General of Police rated him number 1 in security. Abubakar said since Obi came into power, no bank robbery has succeeded (in Anambra State).

Verdict

Partly true. IGP Muhammad Abubakar (or Abubakar Mohammed) made the statement that there was no bank robbery under Obi. He, however, didn’t rate Obi as ‘number 1 in security’.

Verification

Obi served as a two-term governor of Anambra State between 2006-2014.

An April 11, 2014 report by TheNation newspaper quoted the Inspector-General of Police at the time, Mr. Abubakar Mohammed as declaring Anambra State as the “safest” state.

The headline reads: “IG declares Anambra safest since five years”. 

The IGP reportedly made the statement when Obi was no longer the sitting governor.  

Although the IGP could not back the claim up with figures, he indeed was quoted thus: “there was no bank robbery in the state in the last five years during former Governor Peter Obi.”

FactCheckElections investigations further revealed that no news about a “successful” robbery attack under Obi’s tenure. 

Claim 3

He was rated number 1 as the governor that built the highest network road; 800km.

Verdict

No sufficient information. 

Verification

In 2013, credible Nigeria national newspapers here and here reported Obi as saying “I’ve built 800 km of roads.”

But many years after Obi left as the governor of Anambra State, a  2021 report disclosed that the state is among the Nigerian states with the worst road networks.

Claim 4

The candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (Atiku Abubakar) was rated number 1 in corruption by his boss, Obasanjo who called God to punish him (Atiku). 

Verdict:

Misleading. 

Verification

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar served as Nigeria’s vice president when former president Olusegun Obasanjo was in power from 1999 to 2007.

A check by TheCable newspaper shows that there has been a false claim of Obasanjo saying Atiku stole a huge amount as his VP.

In Obasanjo’s trilogy, My Watch, the former president devoted a chapter to talk about the alleged corruption and money laundering cases linked to Atiku. 

“The chapter, titled “Atiku and US Justice Entanglement”, detailed some “corrupt involvement” of the former vice president with a company called iGATE and William Jefferson, a former US lawmaker, who was later jailed for 13 years.

“Although, in the chapter, Obasanjo linked Atiku to the embezzlement of $20 million, which the administration was supposed to deploy for Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), and another $125 million to fund PTDF during 2003 the fiscal year.”

Furthermore, FactCheckElections investigations revealed that the former president did not call the wrath of God on his VP. Instead, findings show that Obasanjo reportedly said God will never forgive him (Obasanjo) if he supports Atiku.

But ahead of the presidential  election in 2018, Obasanjo endorsed Atiku with the assertion that he (Atiku) was better than Muhammad Buhari.

While the allegations of corruption continues to trial the presidential ambition of the serial contestant, Atiku, he has never been indicted. 

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