- Condemn hoodlumsâ€™ invasion of Senate
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
A political group, North-central Stakeholders Forum, has accused the federal government of persecuting senators supporting Senate President Bukola Saraki, warning that unless this was discontinued, it could trigger a chain of reactions that could disintegrate the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Insisting that the invasion of the Senate by hoodlums, allegedly led by suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, last week, was part of the grand plan to intimidate and discredit Saraki, the group condemned the attack on the upper chamber and called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the culprits.
â€œWe condemn in an unequivocal term, the assault and desecration of the hallow chambers of the Nigerian Senate by hired hoodlums, that resulted in the stealing of the mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate,â€ it said in a statement at the weekend in Abuja by the National Chairman, Adamu Aliyu, and the National Secretary, Paul Nsong.
It said the invasion was intended to discredit Saraki and the entire leadership of the 8th Senate, nothing that the sponsors of the attack never hid their hatred for the Senate president from the moment he mounted the saddle against their wishes.
The forum said as part of the efforts to muzzle Saraki, they had subjected him to all forms of harassments, including putting him on trial on trumped up charges.
â€œWe are not unmindful of the humiliation of Dr. Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal all in the bid to discredit, intimidate him and eventually isolate him and have his followers abandon and consequently leave him in the cold,â€ it said.
To weaken the Senate president, the group said, government had resorted to using its anti-corruption agencies to harass his supporters in the upper chambers.
â€œIt is common knowledge that Senator Aliyu Wamakko, a former governor of Sokoto State; and Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano State; and another senator from the South-south are under threat by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) because of their support for Dr. Saraki,â€ it said.
It expressed worry that this was happening towards the 2019 general elections and warned that its members from all the states in the North-central zone of the country would resist the intimidation of Saraki by the powers that be.
Warning the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to be mindful of the implication of its action for the unity of the APC, it referred to the pre-2015 general election experience of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying it was the attempt to muzzle internal opposition that split it and eventual led to its loss of power.
â€œSometimes between 2013 and 2014, preceding the election year in 2015, the then ruling party PDP was being accused of impunity, lawlessness, oppression and lack of respect for due process and rule of law. This eventually led to the fractionalisation of PDP and gave birth to the New PDP,â€ the forum said, adding: â€œIronically, the same script is been played out now, if not even worse.â€
Declaring its support for Saraki, it cautioned that unless the government stopped harassing him, it would mobilise the North-central to reconsider its support for the APC.
â€œWe warn that this administration should thread softly as Nigerians can no longer be used and dumped again,â€ it said, adding: â€œWe are also conscious of the fact that votes of North Central Zone shall no longer be taken for granted as we are very decisive and can do it again.â€