Akin Akande, Abuja
Contrary to expectations that it would shield one of its own who is currently in the eye of the storm, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday stated that it would not condone corruption and that anyone found culpable should be punished.
In its first official reaction to the N225 million-car scandal involving the Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, the party emphasised that it had never and would never condone any form of corruption, but quickly added that if the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) officials are found not guilty, they should not be intimidated.
The embattled minister is the subject of a problem ordered by President Goodwill Jonathan while some of the parastatals under the Aviation ministry are also to be investigated by the House of Representatives for their roles in the scandal.
A statement by PDD National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the its position on corruption is unambiguous while its practical examples in zero tolerance for corrupt practices abound.
“The position of our great party on corruption is unambiguous and our zero tolerance for corrupt practices abounds in practical examples because our founding fathers placed utmost premium on transparent and accountable government as a fulcrum for achieving a Nigeria of our dream. Our successive leaders since 1999 have resolutely stuck to this,” the party stated.
The statement said: “It is common knowledge that at one time or the other, some members of the top leadership of our party or their relatives faced charges of corruption and never was the law restrained from taking its full course.
“To us as a party, the accusations of corruption in the aviation ministry are a big worry. It is for this reason that the President and the leader of our Party has set up a panel to investigate the matter while the National Assembly which we also lead has stepped in. We commend the President and the National Assembly for doing what is appropriate in the circumstance.
“It is a fundamental rule of due process and fairness that these investigations be allowed a full course so that those at the centre of the saga would be availed an opportunity to offer their own side and avoid a case of conviction before trial. We however wish to assure Nigerians that whoever is found culpable shall reap in full, the bitter consequences of corruption and disservice to our dear nation.
“If otherwise established, the aviation officials should not be intimidated but remain focused in the outstanding transformation that Nigerians have witnessed in the sector,” the party stated.
The PDP further frowned at the ethnic dimension which comments and street actions on the issue have taken, cautioning tribal lords and lynch mobs on the two divides that such biased sentiments could hardly achieve an objective basis for establishing the culpability of the public officers involved in the matter.
“These public trials in which the accused stands no chance of defence is antithetical to democracy as it is capable of railroading appropriate investigation into an unjust conclusion,” the PDP said.
“We, therefore, wish the various ethnic lords, jingoists as well as lynch mobs who have found occupation in sensational, subjective and anti-national comments and protests to take their exit and allow the appropriate institutions of authority to dispassionately handle the matter,” it said.