â€¢ Party warns against likely consequences
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under Senator Ahmed Makarfi has cried out to the international community, seeking its help to secure the immediate release of four of its former state governors who have been arrested and detained by security agencies.
The party said the excesses of the security agencies have now reached alarming proportions, warning that â€œIf this ugly trend is not stopped forthwith, it may lead to breach of peace and public disorder.â€
In a statement issued by the spokesman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Dayo Adeyeye, the party urged members of the international community to call the All Progressives Congress (APC) government particularly the APC governors whom it described as â€œoverexcited and autocratic,â€ to order.
â€œWe are therefore calling on the security agencies in the country to release unconditionally, Governor Sule Lamido; the former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam; former Governor of Niger State, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, and all other political detainees in their custody. We are in a democracy and not a Gestapo state,â€ it said.
The opposition which said its attention has been drawn to the unwarranted arrest and detention of the former Governor of Jigawa State, Lamido, by men of the Nigerian Police Force in Kano State, described the action as outrageous and anti-democratic.
It alleged that Lamido was arrested and detained last Sunday on the frivolous allegation of â€˜inciting the public.
The PDP said the true reason for Lamidoâ€™sÂ arrest had to do with the forthcoming local government elections in Jigawa State.
It also alleged that the long incarceration of Suswan is also linked to the forthcoming local government elections in Benue State.
â€œThe APC-led administration is fast losing the confidence of the people because of its non-performance, high handedness and lack of empathy for the suffering of the people. The only option left for it is to prevent the opposition from effectively campaigning and mobilising the people for the elections.
â€œThe whole strategy of the failed APC government is founded on the assumption that if there is no opposition, then they cannot be defeated. Hence the intimidation, harassment and incarceration of popular opposition leaders like Lamido. We are aware that we in the opposition will be in for a hard time in the run-up to the 2019 general election with more arrests and intimidation of our prominent leaders.
â€œFor the record, President Muhammadu Buhari, before the 2011 general election, made several inciting statements against the rigging of the elections with grave consequences thereafter. He was never arrested or detained.
â€œNigerians cannot also forget some inciting statements credited to President Buhari ahead of the 2015 general election. Especially, Buhari, while addressing Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) members in Niger State, incited his audience in Hausa language that translates thus: â€˜…If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.â€™
â€œFor this statement and others as well, he was never invited, arrested or detained by any of the security agencies under the PDP administration. It was not a sign of weakness by the PDP-led government. It was in deference to freedom of speech, democracy and peace.â€ PDP said.
It further accused APC of unleashing the Nigerian Police, the DSS and the EFCC to harass and intimidate court judges, opposition leaders, social media influencers/bloggers and other Nigerians who speak against the APC-led federal or state governments on fabricated charges just to cow them.
According to PDP, Lamido merely asked the people to defend their votes against rigging, which is not a crime.
â€œIf you are not planning to steal the peoplesâ€™ votes, why should you be afraid if the people are advised to defend their votes? Of course, no thief would want the owner to guide his house against burglary.
â€œThe excesses of the security agencies have now reached alarming proportions. If they must be reminded, their mandate is to defend all Nigerians and not to act as a willing instrument of oppression of the people by the autocratic APC government.
â€œWe want to also use this opportunity to invite members of the international community to call the APC government particularly the overexcited and autocratic APC governors to order. They are the ones who are instigating the lawlessness as we saw in Kogi, Niger, Benue and now Jigawa State.
â€œIf this ugly trend is not stopped forthwith, it may lead to breach of peace and public disorder. The APC leaders and governors should be held responsible for whatever is the outcome of this continuous intimidation of opposition members in the country,â€ the party stated.