- Protests Ekiti teargas incidence in Abuja, other states
- Says 2019 elections under threat
Fred Itua, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja, Billy Graham Abel, Yola, George Onyejiuwa, Owerri, Agaju Madugba, Katsina, Judex Okoro, Calabar, Raphael Ede, Enugu, Noah Ebije, Kaduna and Linus Oota, Lafia
Twenty-four hours after Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State was allegedly brutalised by security agents, angry members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, marched against the police nationwide.
The action followed a directive by the national leadership of the party to state chapters to embark on solidarity protests in support of members of the party and Governor Fayose who were manhandled and teargassed.
National Chairman of the party, Mr. Uche Second, who led a protest march to the National Assembly said the Ekiti “attack” posed a grave danger to the 2019 general elections.
He described the incident as a civilian coup, warning that if Ekiti gubernatorial election was rigged, elections would not hold in 2019.
Secondus and other members of the national and state working committees were received by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremandu, who is also a PDP member. The protest grounded the National Assembly for over 45 minutes.
Secondus said: “Just yesterday (Wednesday), there was a civilian coup. The Ekiti Government House was seized and the governor was brutalised, detained and harmed.
“Ekiti has been militarised and policed. Over 30,000 policemen are in Ekiti. The citizens of Ekiti are afraid. They are traumatised. They are harassed.
“We call on international community to see and watch what is happening in Ekiti. If this is the type of democracy and election the APC and INEC tend to conduct, that means the 2019 election is under threat…
“Your Excellency (Ekweremandu), we have come so you can intervene. As part of your oversight function as the National Assembly, you have a right. The mandate is with you by the constitution to query and examine and carry out your oversight function of the Executive.
“The security agencies cannot be above the law. The Executive cannot be above the law. We are aware that INEC has printed result sheet to do replacement by some security agencies. They did it in Edo. They are now ready to do same in Ekiti. Is that the type of democracy they want to give Nigerians? PDP is a peaceful party. We believe in the rule of law. We believe that this a way to show the international community and Nigerians that we believe in the rule of law.”
Ekweremandu, who represented the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, called on the various agencies to remain neutral during the election in Ekiti State.
“Let us thank you for the peaceful manner. Democracy is about free speech and free expression. As representatives of the people we will not support anything anti-democratic.
“We have heard you and we will make contacts with all institutions of democracy as it concerns Ekiti State. We will make contacts with INEC, police and security agencies to ensure that they are neutral,” he assured.
The Senate caucus of the PDP, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to set up a Commission of Enquiry to investigate what happened in Ekiti State.
Addressing newsmen after a meeting, the caucus said Ekiti election was a litmus that will determine the outcome of the 2019 general elections.
Deep cut on democracy – Makarfi
Immediate past national caretaker committee of the party and former governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi described the alleged police brutality as a deep cut on the nation’s democracy.
Makarfi appealed to the police and other security agencies to operate in a manner to inspire the confidence of all in their neutrality.
He also appealed to the Federal Government to rise to the occasion by providing a level playing field in Ekiti and subsequent elections to ensure development of democracy and rule of law, as the entire world is watching with interest how situations will unfold.
PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, also flayed the massive security presence, which he claimed was designed to frighten the people and scare them away from participating in the gubernatorial contest.
“The harassment, arrests, threats and Wednesday’s manhandling of beloved Governor Ayo Fayose by the police squad detailed by the APC, amplifies the clarion call for the people of Ekiti state to march shoulder to shoulder with an unequaled vigour against the oppressors by voting en masse for the PDP on Saturday.
“We know that the whole essence of heavy security presence is to attempt to frighten the people and scare them away from participating in the election, but such cannot work in Ekiti where the people are famous for their boldness, fearlessness and resistance in the face of repression.”
The opposition party cautioned INEC officials, security agencies involved in the conduct of the election against manipulating the poll, stating that, “any action contrary to set rules will attract terrible consequences directly from the people.”
Members of the House of Representatives were, however, divided along party lines over a motion on the alleged assault on Fayose.
Debate on the motion entitled: “Urgent need to intervene and save our democracy,” moved under matters of urgent public importance by two PDP lawmakers, Tajudeen Yusuf and Kingsley Chinda, was interrupted at intervals as PDP lawmakers and their counterparts from the All Progressives Congress (APC), heckled each others.
Leading debate on the motion, Yusuf said the essence of the motion was to alert the international community to the state of affairs in the country.
“The electoral act says all campaigns should stop 24 hours to election but the DIG stopped a campaign three days to election,” he said.
Sunday Karimi blamed the ‘crisis’ on the desperation of the APC to foist a governor on the people of the state.
“If we mishandle Ekiti election, it is a way of inviting problem for 2019,” he warned.
Chinda noted that the scene in Ekiti State on Wednesday was akin to what obtained in South Africa during the apartheid regime, stating that “what we saw yesterday is not only shameful but it attracts pity for the system we run.”
However, Tahir Monguno, a APC lawmaker, dismissed the motion as judgmental and laced with innuendos.
Aminu Suleiman, an APC lawmaker, noted that while the situation in Ekiti on Wednesday reminded Chinda of Apartheid South Africa, it reminded him of Ekiti in 2014.
However, the lawmaker drew the ire of PDP lawmakers, when he described Governor Fayose as a Nollywood actor, stating that the governor was merely acting a scene as the alleged attack did not happen. Following protest by opposition lawmakers, Suleiman was compelled by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, to withdraw his comments.
The motion was eventually adopted and referred to the relevant House committees for investigations, which are expected to report back to the House in two weeks.
Adamawa PDP protests
In line with the directives of the national Secretariat, PDP in Adamawa State took to the streets to protest alleged attack on Fayose.
The protesters who first assembled at the state secretariat of the party, led a procession to the state Police Command to register their grievances.
Members of the state executive committee of the party led the march to the police headquarters and were received by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of adminstration.
Displaying various placards with inscriptions condemning the police actions, they charged the IGP to constitute a panel of enquiry to prosecute erring officers.
Organising Secretary of the party, Hamza Bello and Assistant Secretary, Ayuba Tari said the international community should act against the current dictatorial tendencies of the APC regime.
Katsina PDP writes IGP
The Katsina State chapter of the PDP also flayed the attack which it described as a threat to democracy, rule of law and a flagrant abuse of the Nigerian Constitution.
“If a sitting governor can be manhandled, then nobody is safe. The police who are supposed to be the protectors of lives and property are unfortunately being used as originators of violence.
“We hope the police headquarters rectifies the situation as a matter of urgency, particularly as we are just 48 hours to the start of elections in Ekiti State.”
Imo PDP too
Members of the party in Imo led its chairman, Charles Ezekwem, took to the streets as earlier as 9am, in their hundreds from across the 27 council areas chanting solidarity song as they marched to the state Police Command. “We strongly condemn the happening in Ekiti State. It was a sad commentary to our democracy that Governor Fayose came out on television and was crying over the brutality of police and injuries he sustained from the incident of yesterday (Wednesday). We therefore plead that you use your good offices to ensure that the incident that took place in Ekiti State does not repeat itself to avoid total breakdown of law and order in Nigeria,” they told the police chief.
The CP, Mr. Dasuki Galadanshi assured that he would transmit their concerns to the IGP.
Cross River: INEC must ensure transparency
The Cross River State chapter led by the chairman, Edim Inok also handed over a petition to Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Inuwa, to deliver to the IGP, stating in strong terms their opposition to police “partisanship and undemocratic attitude demonstrated in Ekiti State” and urging the force to restrain itself from meddling in party politicking.
The Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Egbung Odama, called on INEC to ensure transparency by making sure the votes count as any attempt to do otherwise might spell doom for our democracy.
Enugu PDP prays
The Enugu State chapter has embarked on intensive prayer for God to grant the party victory.
The state Woman Leader, Mrs. Vera Ezeugwu, who led the prayer said they were interceding in the spiritual realm as such matters were better handled spiritually.
Ezeugwu, however, urged their compatriots in Ekiti to keep calm as God almighty would win the July 14 governorship election for PDP.
The state Deputy Chairman, Mr. Innocent Ezeoha, said the party chose to pray instead of protest, because with prayers God could change the party’s fortune regardless of the number of policemen deployed to rig the election.
Nasarawa PDP: Attack undemocratic
Addressing the party supporters drawn from the 13 local government areas and wards level, the Nasarawa State chairman of the party, Mr. Francis Orogwu, describe the development as undemocratic.
He urged the IGP to remain neutral in the cause of providing security in Ekiti State election as well as the forthcoming general elections in the country.
Orogu, in a five-paragraph letter of protest submitted to the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Yahaya Bello, said if security operatives continued to display act of favouratism in democratic activities, it would hinder electorate from producing the best presidential candidate and candidates of their choice in the forthcoming general elections at all levels.