…Fumes over removal of Buhari billboards, ‘harrassement’ of road Marshals
…It’s untrue – Govt.
From: Ali Abare, Gombe
The All Progressives Congress (APC), in Gombe State, has raised the alarm over alleged political persecution by Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo.
The APC in the state alleged that the governor was trying to muzzle opposition parties in the state ahead of the 2019 general election.
State interim secretary of the APC, Bello Kasimu Maigari, raised the alarm, on Monday, while reacting on the recent removal of political billboards and posters across Gombe metropolis by agent of the state government.
The APC also accused Dankwambo of directing the state Traffic and Environmental Marshals, a para-military organisation, in company of personnel of Nigeria Civil Defence Corps (NCDC) and police, to remove all the billboards and posters belonging to members of the party, including that of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The party said it considered the action of the state marshals on the directives of the governor as “clear manifestation of political persecution and infringement of constitutional right of members of the APC to political association, which the party said goes contrary to Section 39 and 40 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The APC warned that if appropriate action is not taken to return all billboards and posters belonging to its members, it would be left with no option than to seek to protect its interest by henceforth safeguarding such items.
“We are apprehensive as to the atmosphere of political bias and violence being foisted upon our party by the state marshals that may likely cause the breach of public peace in the state
“There is strong likelihood that the Governor may be tempted to continue to use the state marshals to intimidate, gag, obstruct, manipulate and harass our party members, supporters, political office seekers, and sympathisers of president Buhari in the build up to the 2019 general election”, the party said.
While expressing disappointment over Dankwambo’s alleged abdication of his responsibility during his second term in office to aspire for the seat of the president, the APC further accused the governor of allegedly co-sponsoring the “Resume or Resign” protest against President Buhari .
The party, therefore, urged the state police commissioner to call the state marshals to order with a view to respecting the tenets of democracy and tolerance.
Responding on behalf the state government, Commissioner of Information, Umar Ahmed Suleiman, denied any political persecution by the Dankwambo administration, stressing that the Billboards Act, which requires clearance and payment of a specified amount, covered the ban on political billboards and posters.
The commissioner denied that Dankwambo ordered for the removal of billboards and posters belonging to President Buhari, while accusing the APC of “desperately trying to cause political rift between the Governor and President Buhari”.
“Governor Dankwambo does not only respect the status of President Muhammadu Buhari, but also holds him with the highest esteem of a revered elderly statesman”, he said.
Suleiman described Dankwambo’s administration as an all-embracing government cutting across; political, ethnic and religious divide.
He called on all opposition parties in the state to desist from heating the polity unnecessarily.
“The ban as it should be understood did not single out any political party but even that those billboards and posters belonging to the PDP candidate were not spared”, he said.