*LP: You closed your eyes to ethnic, vitriolic attacks on non-Yorubas in Lagos by your party and its supporters*Says Obi’s running mate a free citizen
*Group slams minister for pre-empting election tribunal
Adedayo Akinwale, Emameh Gabriel and Alex Enumah in Abuja
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, and one of the Spokespersons of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, APC PCC, Mr Festus Keyamo, has called for the arrest of the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and his running mate, Dr. Datti Baba-Ahmed, for allegedly making incendiary comments and claims capable of causing an insurrection against the government.
But the LP Presidential Campaign Council dismissed the allegations against the party’s candidates. It accused Keyamo of selfishness, saying he felt content to look the other way when his party, All Progressives Congress (APC), and its supporters moved against non-Yoruba nationalities in Lagos State with hateful speeches and acts during the last elections.
A civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), also slammed Keyamo for saying the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal would clear Tinubu of all allegations brought against him by Obi and Atiku, insisting it amounts to pre-empting the panel.
Keyamo, who was also the spokesperson of the APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), in a petition addressed to the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), dated March 23, 2023, called on the secret police to charge Obi and Baba-Ahmed to court for their conducts, which he said was akin to incitement and treasonable felony.
The minister said in the petition, “I write this petition with the full realisation that in a post-election period such as this, there is a need to soothe frayed nerves, lower the temperature and begin the healing process. The president-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has issued a statement to this effect a few days ago.”
Keyamo said it appeared Obi and Baba-Ahmed were not prepared to toe the conciliatory path for the sake of peace and national cohesion, while exercising their rights to pursue duly laid down constitutional means of addressing their grievances.
He said since the declaration of the presidential election results, the LP presidential candidates had been hopping from one media house to the other making incendiary comments and claims about the affirmation of the president-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Keyamo claimed that these comments and claims were made not just within the boundaries of exercising their rights to freedom of speech and the freedom to air their grievances publicly, but they had since crossed the line to call for the outright truncation of democracy by insisting on the adoption of other processes outside the contemplation of Nigeria’s constitution.
While noting that in some cases, their privies had even called for the establishment of an interim government, Keyamo said, “The latest of such are the comments made by Datti Baba-Ahmed on behalf of himself and Mr. Peter Obi on Channels TV on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, wherein he threatened that if the president-elect is sworn in on May 29th, 2023, it would ‘signal the end of democracy’.
“Posing as an accuser, a judge and a jury all by himself, he unilaterally declared the duly elected president-elect as ‘unconstitutional’ and, in a subliminal manner, threatened mayhem if the president-elect is sworn in on May 29th, 2023.”
The minister said he had it on good authority that Obi and Baba-Ahmed had allegedly camped some youths in a popular hotel in Abuja with the sole aim of instructing them to push out inciting messages everyday on social media in order to cause panic and fear within the federation and to incite people to riot and social unrest.
Keyamo told the DSS, “These conducts and utterances are a build-up to something more sinister and it is important you rein them in now! In this circumstance, I submit this petition in my personal capacity as a patriotic Nigerian to invite/arrest, interrogate and after investigation, if necessary, charge both individuals to court for their conducts, which amount to incitement and treasonable felony.”
But spokesperson of the LP Presidential Campaign Council, Dr. Tanko Yunusa, in a statement, said, “Datti is a free citizen of this country and entitled to his fundamental right of freedom of expression. Datti never called for insurrection or any act envisaging treason.”
The LP spokesman said Keyamo’s statement lent credence to widespread allegations that the ruling party massively rigged the February 25 elections.
The statement said, “Keyamo talked about healing, that means Nigeria is sick, that means he recognised that the February 25th (presidential election) which announced his principal as the president-elect and the March 18 state elections were marred with blatant rigging, high level violence, voters suppression and intimidation orchestrated by his party.
“Surprisingly, Keyamo, who claims to be a ‘patriotic citizen’ closed his eyes to the ethnic and tribal vitriolic by his party and their supporters against non-Yoruba in Lagos. The so-called ‘patriotic citizen’ didn’t report MC Oluomo, who told Igbo not to vote in Lagos.
“After the shameful Chatham House appearance of Keyamo’s principal, his principal was recorded telling key supporters to fight, snatch, grab and run with ballot boxes, which was exactly what happened in the elections. Why didn’t Keyamo, the ‘patriotic citizen’ report to the DSS.
“Keyamo is just making baseless accusations. He’s a known rabble rouser and chatter box, who doesn’t want to lose political relevance before his paymaster, who have now seen him for what he is, which is a political paper weight, who has achieved nothing as a minister except posting fake news to rile up the polity on social media.”
Similarly, HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, observed that Keyamo’s statement insinuated that the ruling party already had the courts in their pockets.
Onwubiko condemned Keyamo’s statement on the grounds that litigation was yet to start. However, he charged the Supreme Court to “redeem its image and not be a cash-and-carry platform to wi