Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC), Zamfara State chapter on Tuesday led a delegation to submit a petition to the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) over intimidation, harassment, and victimization by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP-led) state government.
State chairman of the party, Lawal M. Liman, complained before the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC that the PDP had been financially inducing his members with sums of money ranging from N2m to N30m to lure local government council chairmen, vice-chairmen and councilors respectively.
Led by the immediate past governor of the State, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, the delegation listed the victimizations as “detention and imprisonment of several members at the APC, including members of publicity committee, demolition of Morodun Local Government’s APC secretariat (home of the state governor).
“Attempt to burn the residence of state’s APC Publicity Committee’s secretary, suspension of two district heads who as demanded by the Sharia Court, sitting in Gusau, signed to bail the detained two former commissioners mentioned above.
“Even after we have been declared the legally bonafide Zamfara State’s APC executives by the Federal High Court of Justice, the PDP-led government in the state has been sponsoring some disgruntled elements through funding: logistics, as well as cover to open a parallel office along Gusau Eastern by-pass road where they currently operate as illegal state executives of our great party under the leadership of one Surajo.
“Attempt to influence the outcome of the current local government pre-election matter currently before the Zamfara State High Court. Intimidation, witch-hunting, harassment and inducement of local government council chairmen, vice-chairmen and councillors elected on the platform of APC through withholding their monthly salaries, allowances and official vehicles which led to the detection of eight LG council chairmen, seven vice-chairmen and some of the councillors into the PDP.
“They were alleged to have been financially induced with the sum of N30 million, N5 million and N2 million for council chairmen, vice-chairmen and councilors respectively,” he noted.
In his response, the ruling party’s national chairman, Oshiomhole, assured the delegation that the party would deploy all the instrumentality at its disposal to stop the intimidation and harassment.
“Let me appreciate the local chairmen who in spite of pressure have chosen to keep the faith as a matter of principles to remain with APC. I want to thank you for deeming fit to come to the party’s headquarters. We have all listened attentively to the chairman of APC and former Governor Yari.
“For me, it is significant that in a country where most people think that nobody believes in anything is about what is convenient. It is also reassuring for me when I see people stand on principle. We appreciate those six council chairmen who have resisted the attempt to coerce them to leave APC for another party that they don’t believe in and to remain with the platform of the party on which they were elected. So, I congratulate you and appreciate you.
“I want to appreciate you Governor Yari for maintaining the fighting spirit. I believe that our party in Zamfara will be rebuilt and I am happy you are rebuilding it. I can see the number of high profile politicians from Zamfara State that are here. I have taken note of your pain particularly with respect to those of our brothers and sisters who from your report have been oppressed or even sent to jail.
“I assure you we will take steps to intervene and see what we can do at the level of judicial intervention. I believe that Nigeria consciously settled for multi-party democracy. Once you have multi-party democracy, the ruling party must respect the rights of the opposition party. As you have seen today, you can be the ruling party, tomorrow you may become an opposition party.
“The rule of engagement must allow everyone regardless of party affiliation to express themselves, associate freely, enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of movement. For me, these are universal values that are shared by all democrats around the world.
“I am happy, however, that in spite of these repression and misuse of law enforcement agents to arraign and detain people unjustly, your spirit has not been detained. I am one who believes that you can jail my flesh but cannot jail my party spirit and once I am committed to a cause, I will fight it to the conclusion. I want to thank you for maintaining the peace,” he noted.