A donation by a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the largesse extended to the APC in Delta State by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, is currently tearing the party apart in the state.
The leadership of the party in the state, however, wielded the big stick on its Secretary, Chidi Okonji, yesterday, suspending him for receiving N600, 000 from Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on behalf of the party.
While the money was said to be a grant to the party, the party however saw it as a bribe to the secretary to blur the fortunes of the party and make it ungovernable ahead of 2019. But reacting to his suspension yesterday, the embattled secretary said it was only the State Executive Council (SEC), made up of 35 members, that had the constitutional right to suspend him.
According to him, Chairman of the party, Jones Ode-Erue, was alleged to have received half of the money and angry that the amount allotted to the APC was meager.
He said his problem started after he asked Ode-Erue to account for the monthly N5 million allowance he was collecting to run the party and the N13.5 million Christmas package given to the party.
Okonji also said he was being victimized because he urged the chairman to return the party bus donated by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, while also resisting the chairman from using his personal account to siphon the party’s funds.
But Ode-Erue, who signed the suspension letter at an enlarged meeting he convened in Asaba yesterday, said Okonji’s action was capable of bringing the party into disrepute and public opprobrium and that he was thereby suspended indefinitely for ‘criminal forgery, fraudulent conversion and connivance with Delta State government.’
The APC chairman, who disassociated himself from the largesse, accused Okonji of ‘collecting N600, 000 as purported grant without the knowledge and permission of the hierarchy of the party.’
He said: “APC will not, cannot and will never collect any money in the name of grants from the failed Okowa government in Delta State. APC takes exception to the activities of these political miscreants and this issue has been decisively dealt with.”
Ode-Erue said APC under his chairmanship would resist every attempt by ‘a government that could not pay workers’ salaries in spite of the bailout funds given to it by the APC-led Federal Government.’