By Alike Ejiofor, Sunday Okobi, Ugo Aliogo in Lagos and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, yesterday carpeted the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government’s security records, saying under its watch, more Nigerians had been killed than during the Civil War that ended in 1970.
Secondus spoke as a guest of ‘Morning Show’ programme of Arise TV, a broadcast arm of THISDAY, and said, “More people have been killed in the last three years than the Civil War that took place in 1967 to 1970, yet we are not at war.”
The main opposition party chairman lamented the state of insecurity in the country, saying President Muhammadu Buhari had failed the nation in that regard.
Noting that one of the cardinal programmes of the Buhari administration was security, Secondus said with a low score, the APC should yield ground to the PDP, contending that the way out of the country’s insecurity situation is for the people to vote for his party in 2019.
He stated that his party’s 16 years of experience in government was the best teacher that provided it with the needed capacity to rescue the country from the misrule of the All Progressives Congress (APC), adding that the party also learnt from its mistakes for which it had apologised to Nigerians.
“When you made mistakes, you must be bold enough to come out and apologise like what happens in the advanced countries. We were not perfect 16 years ago. We know there were areas we defaulted. But we have apologised to the people so that we can start all over again.
“Of course, we have rebranded PDP and by the special grace of God, we have repositioned the party. That was why you witnessed the entire National Assembly collapsed into PDP. We also had three governors. We have learnt from our 16 years of experience. Experience is the best teacher. We are surely gradually moving to rescue the nation from hunger and insecurity. More people have been killed in Nigeria in the last three years than the civil war that took place from 1967 to 1970 and yet we are not at war,” Secondus explained.
Speaking on the refusal of Buhari to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, Secondus said the bill was not about PDP or APC but about Nigeria, stressing that the country should continuously improve on the standard and quality of the delivery of the best elections ever.
“Take Ghana for instance; there is a lot of improvement in their electoral process and you don’t hear parties complaining because they are almost perfecting a system of free and fair elections. You know that whenever there is not free and fair election, it is a recipe for crisis. And so, the aim of the amended bill is to improve the electoral process and stop all forms of rigging so that there could be transparency in terms of transmitting the results from the polling units to the wards and to the local governments and states,” he said.
He faulted the drafting errors cited by President Buhari as one of the reasons for refusing to assent to the bill, stressing that such errors could be corrected.
Secondus also rejected the excuse by the president that the time was too short for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adapt to the provisions of the new bill.
According to the PDP chairman, INEC’s preparation for the 2019 elections has always been in line with the new amendment, adding that the electoral body has always been carried along in the amendment.
Secondus insisted that the National Assembly should override the president’s veto.
When asked how PDP could secure the support of the majority of the legislators to override the president, Secondus stated that his party would get the number from both the PDP and APC.
“We are going to get the number from both sides,” he added.
Also when reminded that INEC had promised to use the Smart Card Readers for the 2019 election despite the non-passage of the amended bill, Secondus said his party did not believe in the electoral body any longer because they made similar promises in the previous elections and still manipulated the elections to favour APC.
“In all the re-run elections, INEC and the police were the problems and that was why we asked the chairman of INEC and the Inspector General of Police to resign.”
According to him, re-run was designed for rigging the elections.
Buhari is Protecting Corrupt Relatives, Says PDP
In a related development, the PDP Presidential Campaign Council yesterday said the Presidential Villa stinks of corruption, challenging the president to showcase his much-touted integrity by allowing an open investigation of his associates and close relatives who were mentioned in alleged serial looting of public resources.
The main opposition party also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of its chieftain, Dr. Doyin Okupe, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This is coming as the party’s presidential campaign train will berth in Gombe State on tomorrow for its North-east zonal political rally as it continues in its quest to assume power in 2019.
But responding to the alleged bias against the opposition in its anti-graft war, the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has advised Nigerians not to listen to some sections of the public, which habour the feeling that the anti-corruption fight is a witch-hunt carried out by the Buhari administration to fight its perceived enemies.
But the PDP alleged that in a bid to further conceal the sleazes of the Buhari-led government, the presidency had gagged one Amina Mohammed paraded by the Department of State Services (DSS), who it said, revealed in her open confession recently that persons close to the president were involved in serial frauds and looting of public resources under official cover.
Spokesman for campaign council, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday stated in a statement in Abuja that “having reviewed all these issues, including the lame denials by those mentioned by the suspect, as well as the failure of the security agency to allow the suspect to complete her open confession, the PDP challenges President Buhari to order an open hearing into the matter if indeed the presidency has nothing to hide.’’
The party also challenged Buhari to immediately make public the report of the investigation of the former aide of the First Lady, Mr. Baba-Inna, who was arrested in September this year over accusations of receiving N2.5 billion as donations from politicians, businessmen and other women on behalf of his wife, Aisha.
Demands Immediate Release of Okupe
The party has also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of its chieftain, Dr. Doyin Okupe, by the EFCC.
In a separate statement issued in Abuja yesterday by the party’s spokesman, PDP described Okupe’s arrest and detention as an act of intimidation and harassment by the federal government in its bid to browbeat the opposition and dissenting voices in the country ahead of the 2019 general election.
It said, “This arrest is part of the grand plot to escalate the clampdown on opposition leaders in an attempt to cow and subjugate them as the elections draw nearer, a scheme the PDP had since alerted Nigerians about.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note that the EFCC was unleashed on Okupe with fabricated charges, just because of his criticisms of the misrule of the Buhari administration, particularly his last Wednesday’s demand to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to declare President Buhari as not validly nominated as a presidential candidate for the 2019 elections.”
The opposition party added that since his comment, Okupe had been threatened, harassed and his home raided by officials of the EFCC last Saturday over claims of cyber stalking, which they could not substantiate, and only for the commission to arrest and detained him last Monday.
It said, “If the EFCC has not been compromised by the Buhari Presidency, why has it not invited or even questioned officials of the presidency indicted for corruption or the factional National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, over alleged extortion of billions of naira from his party members, for which he even had to flee the country?”
The party said instead of using their so-called technology and intelligence to “harass and extort money from innocent, harmless and law-abiding citizens,” EFCC officials should join the security agencies and deploy their technology in the fight against terrorism in the North-east.
In a related development, PDP’s presidential campaign train will berth in Gombe State on Thursday for the North-east zonal political rally as the party continues in its quest to assume power in 2019.
A statement issued yesterday by the Director, Contact and Mobilisation of the campaign organisation, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd), informed all governors, candidates of the party, National Assembly members, the National Economic Committee (NEC) members, Board of Trustees (BoT), state chapters and all stakeholders that they are invited to the zonal rally.
Anti-Graft War Not Witch-hunt, Says Magu
Apparently responding to concerns raised in some quarters on the anti-graft war, Magu has advised Nigerians not to listen to some sections of the public which habour the feeling that the anti-corruption fight is a witch-hunt carried out by the administration of the President Buhari to fight those described as perceived enemies of the government.
Magu, who disclosed this in Lagos at the 2nd Induction Ceremony of the Compliance Institute Nigeria with the theme, ‘Implementation of Beneficial Ownership Disclosure in Nigeria’, noted that there is no hiding place for looters.
“We should not listen to those who say the anti-corruption fight is a witch-hunt. You cannot be invited to the EFCC if you don’t have an offence committed somewhere. Anybody you see in the EFCC has committed an offence. We have not even come out with details, when we come out with details, you will be shocked. All Nigerians should join the anti-corruption fight. We want to save the future of this country,” he said.