The All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday raised the alarm over alleged plans by the Federal Government to unleash the security agencies, especially the police and Directorate of State Security Service, DSS to harass and intimidate the opposition.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, APC said the torrent of threats being issued recently by the Minister of Police Affairs and the DSS, over alleged inflammatory statements by opposition leaders, is nothing but a thinly-veiled attempt at cowing the opposition and destabilising its ranks.
It said the strategy includes the invitation of key opposition figures for questioning by the DSS, starting with the APC National Publicity Secretary, to be followed by arrests and detention of such figures.
But the presidency in its reaction described the APC’s allegation as another smear attempt against the person of President Jonathan in order to win cheap sympathy from the electorate ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe in a statement in Abuja described the allegation as unfounded.
He said: “We must emphasise here that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Jonathan has high regards for democratic principles and has assured Nigerians and the international community repeatedly on its commitment to deliver free and credible election next year.
“Nothing can be as unfounded as the accusation by the APC, which shows clearly that it remains clueless with nothing to offer as the alternative that the party continuous to preach to Nigerians. APC should rather concentrate in selling its manifesto to the electorate.
“While the Federal Government ensures that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is well equipped to perform it statutory duties, security agencies on their part have the responsibility of carrying out any function within their powers that guarantees the safety of lives and property.
“We find all the allegations by the APC as baseless and challenge its leadership to provide any proof to Nigerians,” Okupe said.
APC said the impending clampdown is the government’s answer to the soaring profile of the opposition ahead of the polls, and called on local and international observers of the elections to keep a close eye on the unsavoury developments, which constitute a clear and present danger to the success of the elections.
“The Minister of Police Affairs said publicly that he has already directed the Inspector-General of Police as well as the DSS to arrest anyone who makes inflammatory statements ahead of the 2015 elections, and then went ahead to castigate the APC, thus exposing the real reason for his directive.
“The minister had barely issued his orders when the DSS, which has unabashedly become a megaphone of the ruling PDP, fired its own warning, directed pointedly at ‘a serving governor calling on men of the armed forces to rise up in protest against constituted authority,’ when nothing of such happened.
“If the minister and indeed the security agencies were carrying out their duties as official/agents of state rather than partisans, they would have realised that no one is more guilty of making inflammatory and even treasonable statements than the supporters of the President and members of the PDP.
“Yet, not once has the minister, and the security agencies under his control, called these people to order. There is no better indication of the mindset of these threats-issuing minister and the security agencies under his control than their glaring double-standard and vexatious partisanship. This is not how to run the affairs of state,” the party said.
It recalled that a series of inflammatory, insulting and downright treasonable comments by supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan and officials of the PDP all went without as much as a whimper from those who are now howling at the opposition for statements that are neither inflammatory nor treasonable.
“A die-hard supporter of President Jonathan once threatened that there will be blood on the streets if the President is not re-elected, without anyone calling him to order.
“He recently said the President has already won the yet-to-be conducted February 14 presidential election, suggesting that the election will be a mere formality. No one called him to order.
“Another supporter of the President, Chief Edwin Clark, said if the opposition had its way, it would poison President Jonathan just to take power. The Minister of Police Affairs and the security agencies under his control snored the comment away.