By Chuks Okocha
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday urged the Muhammadu Buhari presidency to stop playing the ostrich, rather, it should take responsibility for the violence and looting by hoodlums deployed to discredit the peaceful protest by Nigerians against the brutality and extra-judicial killings by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in various parts of the country.
The party said it was shameful that instead of owning up and apologising for its alleged role in the deployment of hoodlums and security operatives to attack and kill peaceful protesters, the Buhari presidency is rather unleashing its spokespersons, as spin doctors on national television, to politicise the issues, distort facts, threaten Nigerians and point fingers.
According to the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, the action of the Buhari presidency in rushing to the media to distort fact and threaten Nigerians, appears to be in desperation to blackmail the various enquiry panels, cow witnesses and scuttle efforts to unravel the truth.
It said this further explains the desperation to gag Nigerians on social media as well as escalated clampdown on broadcast stations in the country.
The party said the Buhari administration must bear the blame for the evident hijacking of the peaceful protest by armed thugs who were seen on video being conveyed in vehicles belonging to security agencies, and openly coordinated to unleash violence in the streets, leading to maiming, looting, arson and wanton destruction of property in the country.
Instead of pointing fingers at others, the PDP said the Buhari presidency should come clean on who used security vehicles to convey and coordinate thugs as well as who deployed soldiers to Lekki Tollgate in Lagos to attack unarmed and peaceful protesters.
“Our party is alarmed by the on-going clampdown and freezing of bank accounts of some Nigerians for participating in the genuine and peaceful protests against police brutality in various parts of our country.
“It is indeed distressing that the government officials could use the platform of a national television to attempt to justify such gross violation of our constitution, which can only come from an administration that thrives in bullying harmless citizens, entrenching recklessness and promoting corruption in the high place,” the party said.
PDP stated that the freezing of accounts of protesters amounted to a deliberate effort to economically punish these Nigerians and their families for calling for good governance, respect for the rights of citizens, an end to police brutality and manifest slide to lawlessness under the Buhari administration.
Accordingly to PDP, “Such action does not engender hope among the citizens, especially the youths. Instead, it goes to validate widely held view that the government is not ready to listen to the citizens but has already convicted the protesters.
“It is even more disturbing that the government is hounding peaceful protesters while keeping silent on its alleged role in the mobilisation of thugs and hoodlums who unleashed violence on Nigerians in the streets.”
Moreover, the opposition party explained that it is strange to the party how the federal government can be dissipating energy in harassing unarmed and harmless citizens who merely embarked on a civil protest over obvious societal ills while insurgents, marauders and bandits continue to terrorise Nigerians across the country.
It, therefore, counseled the federal government to be more sensitive and immediately stop its clampdown on Nigerians, “especially at this critical time that our county is in dire need of healing.”
The PDP, however, urged Nigerians, especially the youths, to remain calm despite these provocations, in the overall interest of the unity, stability and good of the country, particularly at this trying time.