An Edo State-based civil society group, Forum for Progressive Governance and Accountability, has called on Edo people to reject Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress for the September 19, 2020 gubernatorial poll in the state, as he faces a criminal charge bordering on an alleged N700 million fraud case preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The EFCC had in the case, with suit No. FHC/BE21C/ 2016, before Justice J. M. Umar at the Federal High Court, Benin City, filed an eight-count charge against Ize-Iyamu and four others on alleged illegal receipt of public funds to the tune of N700 million for the purpose of conducting the 2015 general elections, contrary to the provisions of the EFCC Act and the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
Torrent of criticisms have continued to trail the ongoing corruption trial of the APC candidate, with several groups calling on Ize-Iyamu to step aside from the gubernatorial race and clear his name.
In a statement jointly signed by the Secretary, Forum4PGA, Festus Eghosa, and Vice President, Jerome Ohien Destiny, the group noted that it was imperative to put Edo electorates and all right-thinking members of the public on the alert because of the negative implications and threat Ize-Iyamu’s candidacy poses to the integrity of all Edo people and electoral process.
The group further called on President Muhammadu Buhari; the cting Chairman of the EFCC, Mohammed Umar; and other well-meaning Nigerians to watch out for undue interference in the case, noting that some powers behind the scene were working assiduously to influence the trial and sabotage the court proceeding in favour of the lead defendant, Pastor Ize-Iyamu.
The statement noted: “How can the APC produce a candidate being prosecuted for a criminal act in a state known for high prestige, integrity and dignity? This is an insult to the sensibility of all Edo sons and daughters both at home and in the Diaspora. We must all come out on September 19 to tell Pastor Ize-Iyamu that Edo people are not fools.
“Edo people will vote and support only individuals with noble character that are above board and have no verifiable allegations of corruption and malfeasance like Governor Godwin Obaseki, whose achievements in the last three years and seven months have repositioned the state to compete favourably with other sub-nationals. We will not allow a known looter put our state on reverse.
“We know President Buhari is a man of impeccable character and integrity who is determined to rid the country of looters. We are aware that some persons who were tried over a similar case of money laundering stemming from the 2015 election campaign sleaze popularly known as DasukiGate have been jailed.
“The DasukiGate and the attendant criminal convictions as well as the billions of returned loot remain some of the president’s landmark achievements in the fight against corruption and we’re confident that he won’t relent in his anti-corruption fight. We call on the new Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mohammed Umar, to watch out against undue interference in the case and ensure that all those found wanting before the law are made to face the consequences of their actions.”