Stop Labeling Opposition Members Criminals, PDP Tells FG

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned what it called the unrelenting media trial and persecution of opposition members and other perceived political opponents of the All Progressives Congress (APC), under the guise of fighting corruption.

In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said  the PDP was not opposed to the fight against corruption, but completely against government’s resort to media trial, constant harassment, unlawful detention and trumped up charges against opposition members, using various agencies, particularly, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“This reckless abuse and violation of procedures of the law by the APC is a clear recipe for civil unrest in our nation, if it does not stop,” it said.
The party said it could no longer continue to stomach the hijacking of the duties of the judiciary by agencies of the executive allegedly under the instructions of the Presidency.
“The PDP particularly rejects the emerging trend by the EFCC, wherein accused persons and individuals who are still under investigation on alleged corruption charges are paraded and forced to hang criminal tags, as meted out to former Kaduna State Governor Muktar Yero, even when such persons have not been convicted by any court of competent jurisdiction.

“The PDP is totally against the desperation by the EFCC, working under the instruction of the APC, to declare a guilty verdict on accused persons without trial by the courts, all in the bid to bring perceived political opponents to public odium and emasculate the opposition ahead of 2019 general elections.
PDP also condemned alleged interferences in on-going cases, including those in court, by appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari, particularly, members of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption.

It said the committee’s comments and actions had continued to escalate media trials and other irregularities in the handling of such cases.
“Nigerians will recall that the PDP had earlier raised the alarm over this unrelenting assault, harassment and persecution of opposition members under the guise of fight against corruption.

“This reckless abuse and violation of procedures of the law by the APC is a clear recipe for civil unrest in our nation, if it does not stop.
“The fight against corruption must be prosecuted within the ambits of the provisions of the law and not as an instrument of persecution and clampdown against the opposition. Enough is enough!

The party also slammed former governor Orji Kalu’s killing claims, adding that it has nothing to do with PDP.
It called on  Orji Uzor Kalu to come out clear on his “we use to kill’ statement at the recent South East rally of the APC.
“We state this because the PDP do not kill and has never asked or contracted any of its members or anybody for that matter to kill on its behalf, over any matter whatsoever.
“The PDP believes that  Orji Uzor Kalu spoke in his personal capacity and probably on issues concerning his activities.  Since such a claim came from a person of the status and attainment of Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, we hold that he could have certain information that requires explanations to the public.

“The PDP remains a law-abiding political party, whose activities at all levels are guided by strong code of conduct and adherence to the laws of the land.
“We therefore urge Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu to come out clear on his claims and define those he referred to as “we” and the circumstances of the killings he spoke about, so as to put speculations on the matter to an end,” it said.