Slams FG for arresting Suswan  •Urges caution over cattle ranches

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said the All Progressives Congress (APC) is being haunted by fear of imminent implosion, which will lead to the exodus of its key members.

The opposition party said in its desperation, the APC-led administration was plotting to clamp down on leading opposition figures into detention and keep them out of circulation till after the next general election.

PDP expressed concern over the arrest and continued detention of former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswan, adding that his arrest was meant to prevent him from attending a PDP rally for the North-central.

The opposition party has also asked the federal government to exercise caution over its plan to establish cattle ranches in some parts of the country and hold adequate consultations so as not to escalate the same problems it claims to be addressing

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, while speaking on the progress being made by the party’s contact and mobilisation committee to woo aggrieved members of the APC, said tremendous inroad had been made, adding that details would be made public soon.

“They are working very hard in the interest of Nigerians and I can assure you that very soon, the committee will make returns to the party,” he said.

When asked to explain the committee’s delay in submitting progress report, Ologbondiyan said: “When a fisherman throws his net into the ocean, he does not withdraw it until it is full; I can assure you that our net is capturing and we will soon make it public.I need to emphasise that PDP is the father of democracy in the country, and we have a moral right to defend democracy whenever it is threatened. We will also stand on the side of those whose rights are being assaulted. That is why it appears that we speak for all members of the opposition.They are Nigerians and they don’t need to be our members before we can defend their rights,” he explained.

The PDP spokesman said the party had earlier alerted Nigerians and the international community that the enemies of the country’s democratic process and adversaries of unity and harmonious living as have commenced a desperate clampdown on opposition leaders and perceived opponents of the President Buhari administration.

“Today, our dear country, Nigeria, has finally fallen into a perilous time! There are fears and trepidation everywhere. The safety, and personal freedom of Nigerians, particularly, opposition members, are no longer guaranteed. APC, having realised that they stand no chance in the 2019 general elections, are now deploying all wicked machinations to cause confusion, heighten political tension, hounding and arresting of opposition leaders, making spurious allegations and attacking influential Nigerians, including former heads of state, all to instill fear on the polity.

“Having failed in their corruption smear campaign against the PDP and many notable Nigerians, the APC and the presidency cabal have now devised a devious machination to rope in, frame, implicate and ultimately incarcerate marked opposition leaders and other dissenting voices over fabricated security charges,” he explained.

Ologbondiyan said part of the grand design, as already exposed by the Special Adviser to President Buhari, Mr. Femi Adesina, on ARISE TV, is to link such opposition leaders and dissenting voices with the widespread killings in various parts of the country.

He said Adesina had forgotten that President Buhari had earlier blamed the attacks on invaders from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, while his Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) blamed it on herdsmen from neighbouring countries.

“Gentlemen of the press, the wicked clampdown has started. Only yesterday, we were made aware of the arrest and detention of Suswam, who has been kept incommunicado without access to his lawyers, while the federal government is not forthcoming with the details of the reasons behind the arrest and detention.

“However, we know that his arrest and detention is intended to put him out of circulation, so that he will not take part in the mega meetings of our party planned for the North-central states,” he said.

“There are already fears that other opposition leaders and dissenting voices have been placed under watch and will be framed up on security charges, so as to keep them out of circulation, ahead of the elections.

“Only yesterday, an explosive device was discovered at the Ebonyi State PDP secretariat, either planted to blow up our secretariat and kill our members or to set up our leaders,” he added.

“These attacks, threats and intimidation targeted at influential Nigerians, particularly, past leaders, show clearly that the APC and the presidency are very scared of their inevitable defeat in the 2019 general election and now seek to apply all machinations to overheat the polity and ostensibly frustrate the process,” he explained.

“The PDP wants the APC and the Buhari presidency to know that despite their machinations, the 2019 general election must hold as scheduled, as Nigerians will never be cowed into allowing them to stay a day beyond May 29, 2019, no matter the intimidation, threats and harassment,” he added.

The party has also asked the federal government to exercise caution over its plan to establish cattle ranches in some parts of the country.

The party said the situation has already generated discordant tunes and acrimony among major stakeholders, groups and states across the country, particularly relating to issues of funding and land ownership.

In a separate statement issued by Ologbondiyan,  the party  said it was particularly worried by the lack of adequate consultations by the federal government resulting in the disagreements that have trailed the plan, especially along ethnic divides.

“The party calls on the federal government to get its acts together and follow all due processes, as stipulated by the laws and 1999 constitution (as amended) regarding this issue, in order to eliminate the current disagreements being generated,” it said.

PDP noted that the country has witnessed enough disagreements, violence and bloodletting, as such all measures must be put in place to avert fresh crisis.