By Edem Edem, Calabar
The Governorship Candidate of Democratic Front for Peoples Federation (DFPF) and a stalwart of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr. James Ebri has condemned the sacking of two Cross Riverians by Federal Government describing the action as witch-hunt.
“Yes it’s a clear case of witch-hunt. It looks like a situation where somebody is trying to fish for dirt. We know who could possibly set her up. When did we start looking for fronts on contracts properly executed, or finding out contracts awarded to friends and colleagues using fronts? I think the government needs to set up a body to look into the use of fronts for contracts by highly placed officials, and let us see how many of them will escape indictment. Witch-hunt is bad”
Ebri said “The issue of Duty Travel Allowance (DTA) is an administrative thing that can be handled by laid down service procedure. If somebody took an excessive TDA, they will write you and let you know that you took too much. And you will have to respond.
“It may not be criminal, may be the way it was done may not be right and you are expected to correct it and even refund the excess amount. Why are they trying to rubbish her and leaving out the head that was the accounting officer of the ministry.
From what they are even saying, there is no direct money linked to her account, there are looking at other people’s account and calling her name instead.
“I am worried that this thing is becoming a pattern against people that are from the minority area of the country, they cannot fault her in the current job she is doing, they have gone looking for any possible mistake that can be linked and robbed on her.
“So many of us are projecting APC anti-corruption stance and if we see that the thing or approach is correctly followed, we will support it. Especially this happening shortly after the CJN from CRS was removed for what had to do with code of conduct issues. Is it not the some code of conduct matter that they used against the former Senate President for over three years they could not remove him? The former CJN from the minority was removed over just a period of months” .
Another group, Concerned Cross Riverians, in a statement signed by its Leader, Mr Williams Eko said “It is alleged that she embezzled N3 billion whereas N3 billion was the total annual budget for the Ministry of Special Duties.
“So the Estacode /duty tour allowance certainly could not have taken up the whole budget of N3 billion. Didn’t the Ministry have recurrent expenditure, staff training, capital expenditure etc to attend to? So there’s nothing like N3 billion fraud except that some powerful cabal are not happy with her.
“The whole blackmail on her today is because she was Permanent Secretary to former Federal Minister of Special Duties, Kabir Turami Turaki, SAN who is sympathetic to Atiku Abubakar and bail arranger of the PDP presidential candidate’s son-in-law and lawyer, now on the Government’s enemies list that has presented the HOS as a target of opportunity to the Chief of Staff (COS) Abba Kyari who is keen to be rid of her particularly since their public clash over Maina”.
The group further said, “We know very ready, able and willing allies of the COS are ranking Federal Permanent Secretaries eyeing the HOS’ seat as replacement. She is 55 and has 5 more years to retirement, for goodness sake”.
They challenged the cabal to show any property anywhere in Abuja the EFCC pasted their notice and seal that belongs to Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita presumably in the last three years except that some people just want to criminalized her.
On Obla, the group said the President step in immediately otherwise some powerful people in the presidency and their cohorts who are behind everything will cover up the gracious cases of corruption Obla’s committee was working to unveil.
“We charge president to step in and let the whole world see the truth if we are honest about fighting corruption and not just an issue of muddling up issues and elbow them out” .
They argued that the issues against them are cooked up, witch hunt and political vendetta by some powerful cabal in Aso Rock. “It is a clear case of giving a dog a bad name so as to hang wondering how N600m found in the account of the Project Accountant which is already undergoing investigation be linked to her after all the officer in question is level 12 and reports to the Director Finance & Administration, who reports to the Permanent Secretary, who reports to the HOS. Where is the Conspiracy theory coming from and who are the co-conspirators?