Says president’s alleged violence comment, a joke
Iyobosa Uwugiaren, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Ayodeji Oke in Lagos
The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday said it would punish the promoters of the violence that engulfed its presidential rally in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital on Monday, saying it was an act of indiscipline too many.
Its Presidential Campaign Council has also taken time to deny that President Muhammadu Buhari asked his supporters to prepare for violence as stated by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, saying what the president meant was actually a joke.
The ruling party move towards its pledge to punish the perpetrators of the Monday violence when it accused Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State of sponsoring the ‘’Monday’s premeditated attacks’’ on Buhari and other party leaders at the venue of the presidential campaign rally in Ogun State, and vowed to punish the sponsors of the violence.
The finger-pointing came from its National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement in Abuja yesterday, just as the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, stated that the police have launched investigations into the incident.
In a statement issued by Director, Strategic Communications, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Festus Keyamo, the party described as ‘’outright falsehood and scaremongering,’’ the attempt by the main opposition party to portray the president as one instigating people to violence.
The campaign team said what the President meant was actually a joke but deliberately taken out of context.
“Typical of the PDP and Atiku’s campaign team, they have continued in their favourite pastime of peddling falsehood, scaremongering and misinformation. This time, the candidate of the main opposition party himself, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, sensing a comprehensive defeat this Saturday and out of frustration, threw caution to the wind in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State on Monday, February 11, 2019, when he alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari called for violence when he campaigned in Zamfara State,” it said.
The Buhari team further explained that the president had always commented on this joke in his private conversations.
The statement said: “Nothing can be farther from the truth. The Hausa word the President used in Zamfara, which has been taken out of context, is fitna. Incidentally all our Hausa language scholars have said the word means different things: it means distress, trial, affliction or temptation. It can also be used to describe rebellion or uprising.
‘’In this case, President Buhari was actually weighing in on the joke told very often of recent in the North that due to the rice boom, farmers have embarked on pilgrimage and marrying of more wives.
‘’So, what the President meant was actually a joke deliberately taken out of context: he simply told the crowd to ensure they eat very well because of the rice boom before they can contemplate giving in to those temptations.
“Even in some private meetings with our campaign team, the president has always commented on this joke. Sadly, out of desperation, Atiku has decided to peddle falsehood.
“We urge Atiku to realise that it is God Almighty that gives power and takes power. He should not use his palpable desperation to return to power in order to sell Nigeria to his friends and to make them rich to set this nation ablaze by outright falsehood.”
APC Vows to Punish Sponsors of Ogun Violence
Meanwhile, the ruling party has regretted what it described as the ‘’premeditated attacks sponsored by Governor Ibikunle Amosun’’ on Buhari and other party leaders at the venue of the presidential campaign rally in Ogun State and vowed to punish the sponsors.
‘’This is one act of indiscipline too many. The APC will not condone acts of indiscipline, indiscretion and anti-party activities from any party member no matter how highly placed,’’ the party stated in a statement by Issa-Onilu.
He said the party would review the gross misconduct and take a decision on the matter immediately after the elections.
The ruling party added, ‘’It must be stated that party supremacy and discipline according to our constitution are not matters of choice but binding principles, which must be adhered to by all party members.
‘’The APC is a party known for discipline, justice, fairness and equality hence any plan to destroy what this party stands for would be rejected. No single person will be allowed to put his personal and selfish interests ahead of the wishes of the people of Ogun State and elsewhere.’’
It added that the decision of the National Working Committee to uphold the wishes of party members in Ogun State is unbendable, saying whatever means being presently deployed by persons intending to undermine the wishes of the people for personal gains will not be tolerated. APC urged its teeming party supporters and members not to be disturbed by the Monday’s ‘’condemnable’’ incident, advising them t≠o continue trooping out en masse for its remaining campaigns and vote massively for APC candidates in the forthcoming general elections.
Police Probe Incident
Meanwhile, the Force Public Relations Officer, Mba, has disclosed that the police have launched investigations into the Ogun APC crisis.
Speaking yesterday on Arise TV, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, the police condemned the violence at the APC rally.
While reiterating the pledge that the police are tirelessly working on maximum security to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections, he said politicians must however work on strengthening internal democracy.
He said: “Most of the issues are intra-party. We must continue to work to strengthen internal democracy. In as much as the politicians keep urging the Nigerian Police Force to provide a level-playing field, they should play according to the rule.
“We will continue to do what is right by monitoring. The incident in Ogun State is already under investigation and I may not be able to speak much on it until those carrying out the investigations turn in reports to the office of the Inspector General.
“I can assure you that there is so much going on behind the scene; stakeholders meeting, constructing engagement between the political leaderships.”
Mba further added that in preparation for the forthcoming elections, the police will deploy all its human resources for maximum security and consequently, withdrawing policemen from VIPs.
He added: “We will deploy all our human resources maximally to ensure we deliver on our mandate but I won’t give figures.
“Our policemen in VIPs protections will be withdrawn to carry out this national assignment. We want to ensure Nigerians are given a fair level in the forthcoming elections.
“Every time we have a general election, we improve our capacity because what we do is to look back and access on what we have and fix errors we have made. We take criticism and put those into consideration. 2019 will not be anything different,” Mba added.
Speaking on vote buying, he assured that the police are also putting all strategies in place to if not eradicate issues of vote buying, but reduce it to the minimal.
“Nigerians need to understand the power they have from their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs). This time around if we don’t eliminate the issue of vote buying, we will reduce it to the minimum level.
“We need the support of all the stakeholders and ordinary Nigerians to sustain a credible election process without being influenced by any sort of financial indiscipline.”