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Presidency: Kalu Embezzled Campaign Funds

Posted by From Josephine Lohor in Abuja on 2005/10/20 | Views: 876 |

Presidency: Kalu Embezzled Campaign Funds


The exchange between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State over funds for 1999 presidential campaigns took a twist yesterday with the Presidency accusing Kalu of embezzling funds made available to him as co-ordinator of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign in Abia state.

Abia gov not presidential co-ordinator, says aide


The exchange between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State over funds for 1999 presidential campaigns took a twist yesterday with the Presidency accusing Kalu of embezzling funds made available to him as co-ordinator of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential campaign in Abia state.


But Kalu's aide, Ekeoma Iyke, denied the claim and said the governor never acted as co-ordiator of the President's campaign.


 The Director of Publicity, Obasanjo Campaign Organi-sation in 1999  and presently Senior Special Adviser to the President on Public Commu-nications, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, said funds were made available for campaign coordinators but Kalu did not disburse money for the campaign.


 Ugochukwu, who said the amount of money Kalu embezzled could not be made available as at press time, recalled that “the Campaign Organisa-tion provided money to the different States for running the campaign. Orji Kalu, as a governorship candidate of the party became head of the Presidential campaign in Abia State PDP and I do recall that money was given to him. The man who was co-ordinating the campaign in Abia and officially appointed co-ordinator was Chief David Ikoro.


“I do recall that  David complained to me at the time that he received no money. In the end, we had to look for ways of supporting the campaign that was carried out in Abia. The Campaign Organisation provided money for that campaign in every State. I do not have the exact figure now, but I know that money was provided for the campaign. I was not in charge of finance, but I do recall that the co-ordinator kept complaining. The man is still alive and I think he is a businessman in Abia so he can be asked.”


Ugochukwu who accused Kalu of  seeing things that are non-existent, said he was already in the Campaign Organisation before the governor joined it, but “when the campaign started, the only other Igbo man in the committee was the late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo. It was after Chuba Okadigbo dropped out because of hostility of Igbo towards the campaign at the time that Orji Uzor was invited to join.


“You will recall that he had claimed initially that he gave N100 million to (Dr. Alex)  Ekwueme’s campaign; when that was challenged, he stopped using that. I think that he sometimes suffers from delusion. If he imagines something, he begins to say it, then he begins to believe that it is true. And it is possible that if you give him a lie detector test, he would pass it. It started just from imagination”.


While emphasizing that he was in a position to question Kalu’s claim of donating $1 million to Obasanjo campaign in 1999 because he was a member of the steering committee of the campaign, Ugochukwu said, “the President at that time, issued a  code of conduct to all the staff and all those who are raising money. And he said do not accept money from anybody who is making an investment. Any donation must be for strengthening democracy. That was actually written down and given to every staff in the campaign”.


He, however, added that “what saddens us, especially those of us from Abia State, is that he, Kalu, does not show respect to Mr. President, the head of our nation and he would expect others to show respect to him as Governor of the State. When you come from a State like that, where this kind of thing is happening, it is both embarrassing and repugnant”.


Stating Kalu's position, Iyke said it was not true the governor embezzled any campaign fund and that "Kalu was not given any money, so he could not have embezzled same."


He denied that the governor was ever a presidential campaign co-ordinator, saying that as a loyal party member Kalu was actively involved in mobilising fund for the campaign effort.


Ekeoma said: "The governor, as a foundation member of the PDP, worked assiduously to ensure the success of the party at the polls. His capacity as a great mobiliser of the people made many people to see him as a campaign co-ordinator."


The governor's aide wondered why the Presidency is just bringing up this issue now after the governor's disclosure that he personally contributed $1 million to the Obasanjo campaign effort, and described Ugochukwu's statement as mischievous.


He reiterated that Kalu actually gave that money to Obasanjo in the sitting room of his Ota Farm House.


He said the $1m was given through a First Bank cheque made payable to Temperance Farm account.


He added that there were so many other Igbo traders who gave money to the President towards his campaign effort in 1999.


He waved off Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode and Mrs. Remi Oyo's defences as "neither here nor there," saying "since they were not there at that time, how could they be defending what they did not witness.”


Kalu had at the weekend alleged that he donated $1 million and another N500 million to assist the President in his campaign but the Presidency in a statement signed by presidential assistant on Media Affairs, Mrs. Oyo, denied. It also challenged Kalu to make public  the receipt of such monies.


 

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.