*Urge Nigerians to remain vigilant, resist any undemocratic conduct
*NGF pledges to continue defending Nigeria’s democracy
*Olanipekun: Interim government plan will consume everyone, including those in support
Charles Ajunwa in Lagos, Chuks Okocha, Alex Enumah and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), an umbrella body of Nigerian governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday called for the arrest and prosecution of anyone involved in the alleged interim government plot, describing the “evil plan” as unfortunate, condemnable and treasonable.
On their part, state governors under the platform of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), met on Thursday night in Abuja and resolved to continue defending Nigeria’s democracy amid the alleged interim government plot.
Also yesterday, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and immediate past Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BOB) Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, lambasted the alleged interim government conspiracy, saying it would consume everyone, including those in support.
In a statement issued yesterday by its Chairman and the Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, the PGF said it was ironic that after the Presidential, National Assembly, Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections in which all the major parties recorded varying successes and disappointments in different constituencies, “some self-serving individuals are unfortunately seeking to sabotage the country’s democratic progress.”
The Forum adds: “The PGF notes the press statement issued by the Department of Security Service on the unfortunate, condemnable and treasonable conduct of some undemocratic elements who are agitating for an interim government. We condemn such agitation.
“It is commendable that the Department of Security Service exposed the plot and we call upon them to arrest and prosecute anyone involved.”
The PGF said after a democratic contest, “parties are free to exercise the legal right of going to court.”
It stressed that indeed, it was widely reported that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) had chosen to go to the Presidential Election Tribunal to challenge the outcome of the presidential election, which was won by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of APC.
“In all the 36 states of the federation, tribunals have also been established to provide opportunity to those who participated in the various elections but otherwise feeling dissatisfied, to challenge the results.
“We urge all Nigerians to remain vigilant and resist any undemocratic conduct that is capable of undermining our democracy. Our Country has done well in promoting democracy both in Nigeria and elsewhere in the African continent, and it is sad that some unpatriotic elements are nursing the evil plot for interim government, which will amount to subverting our national democratic progress.”
The forum also commended the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Transitional Council for issuing a statement restating the federal government’s commitment towards a successful inauguration of a new President on May 29th, 2023.
It, therefore, called on all citizens to support Nigeria’s democratic development, which “the campaign for interim government is meant to truncate.”
NGF Pledges to Continue Defending Nigeria’s Democracy
State governors under the platform of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), met on Thursday night in Abuja and resolved to continue defending Nigeria’s democracy amid the alleged interim government plot.
In a communique of their meeting, signed by Forum Chairman/governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the NGF also called on the DSS to stop overheating the polity with its statement that some entrenched politicians are planning an interim government against the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The governors asked the DSS to rather arrest those concerned.
However, the governors acknowledged that the 2023 general election was not perfect.
“Governors condemned, in the strongest terms, any unconstitutional means of regime change and pledged their commitment to continue to defend Nigeria’s democracy as elected leaders.
“In addition, the Forum believes that issuing statements without arrests is akin to heating up the polity and causing unwarranted tension in the country. It called on the DSS to do its job by immediately arresting and prosecuting all those involved in the plot as a matter of urgency,” the communiqué of the meeting stated.
The communiqué also informed that the Forum received a briefing on the cancellation of the proposed privatisation of five National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) power plants by National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and the withdrawal of the matter at the Federal High Court – the 36 States of the Federation Vs the Federal Government of Nigeria – which was instituted to halt the process to enable stakeholders address the concerns by States and Local Governments who collectively own a joint stake of 53% in the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC).
Governors, the communiqué explained, applauded this move by the NCP which appears to have taken into consideration the recommendation of the states to halt the process due to ill-timing, amongst other reasons.
Olanipekun: Interim Government will consume everyone
Meanwhile, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and immediate past Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BOB), Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, has condemned the alleged Interim National Government plot, describing it as an invitation to anarchy.
Reacting to the alleged plot, Olanipekun warned those behind it to immediately perish such thoughts because ‘”it is a situation that would consume everyone including those in support of it.”
He spoke in Abuja during the send-forth dinner, organised by the Body of Bench on Thursday at the end of his one-year tenure as the 50th Chairman of the body, which began on March 31, 2022.
“It is unconstitutional. To me, it comes from the pit of hell. Calling for an interim national government? Where did you get it from? How do you compartmentalise it? How do you accommodate it within a constitutional democracy? As a lawyer, I don’t know the jurisprudence that will accommodate it.
“Let’s face it. Whenever there is an election anywhere in the world, there is bound to be disagreement. But, if for every disagreement, you say let us disband the system, that does not make sense. You can’t throw away the baby with the bath water. It is never done,” he said.
Olanipekun, who cited cases from developed countries where election outcomes had been disputed, urged those aggrieved to explore the opportunities provided by the Constitution and the statue having gone to court.
He recalled the unpleasant experience the nation had under the last interim government experiment of the late Chief Ernest Shonekan in the country, describing it as an ill wind that will blow no one any good.
“I am not saying all is well. In every institution created by God for man, there would be minuses. You don’t have 100 percent anywhere. I am not saying there is no room for improvement. But, don’t let us call for anarchy. No one is going to benefit from it, not even those calling for it.”
He pleaded with those calling for an interim national government to reconsider and think of what will be the outcome.
The Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria’s secret police, had early this week alleged that some persons were plotting to stall Tinubu’s inauguration and install an interim national government instead.
Dr. Peter Afunanya, DSS spokesman, stated that some persons had weighed various options, which include foisting interim government after obtaining frivolous court injunctions to forestall the inauguration of new executive administrations and legislative houses at the Federal and State levels.
Afunanya said such persons were also considering sponsoring endless violent mass protests in major cities to warrant a declaration of State of Emergency.
“The Service considers the plot, being pursued by these entrenched interests, as not only an aberration but a mischievous way to set aside the constitution and undermine civil rule, as well as plunge the country into an avoidable crisis.
“The illegality is totally unacceptable in a democracy and to the peace-loving Nigerians. This is even more so that the machination is taking place after the peaceful conduct of the elections in most parts of the country.
“Consequently, the Service strongly warns those organising to thwart democracy in the country to retract from their devious schemes and orchestrations.
“Stakeholders, notably judicial authorities, media and the Civil Society, are enjoined to be watchful and cautious to avoid being used as instruments to subvert peace and stability of the nation. While its monitoring continues, the DSS will not hesitate to take decisive and necessary legal steps against these misguided elements to frustrate their obnoxious intentions,” the Service said.
On March 1, the Independent National Electoral Commission declared Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.
The APC presidential candidate garnered 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, who polled 6,984,520 votes and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi, who scored 6,101,533 votes.
Following INEC’s announcement, Atiku and Obi rejected the results, alleging that the election was rigged. They have since filed petitions against Tinubu at the Presidential Election Tribunal.