From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has debunked claims by the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate Peter Obi of the arrest and intimidation of his supporters.
In a tweet on Tuesday on his verified handle @PeterObi, the former Anambra State governor said an election cannot be adjudged credible if there is intimidation.
He condemned what he described as “extremely disturbing” reports of the arrest and intimidation of his supporters.
Obi said an election cannot be adjudged credible if there is intimidation.
He tweeted “Elections are not deemed free and fair when a certain group employs the tool of intimidation to ensure that the opposition is silenced, both at the campaigns and at the polls.
“Elections are not deemed free and fair when a certain group employs the tool of intimidation to ensure that the opposition is silenced, both at the campaigns and at the polls,” Obi wrote on the Twitter thread.
“Peaceful assembly and unfettered electioneering campaigns are constitutionally guaranteed. Both and other ordered liberties cannot be breached wilfully by security agents.
“Recent reports of OBI-dients being silently arrested by some security agents is extremely disturbing and condemnable.
“We must ensure that everyone is given a level playing field in the forthcoming elections and that no eligible Nigerian, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation is disenfranchised, more so through violence and intimidation.
“I call on the federal and state agencies to remind their operatives of the need to respect civil liberties.”
But a presidential source who pleaded for anonymity said: “Accusations made earlier Wednesday on social media by the presidential aspirant, Peter Obi, that some of his supporters, known as “Obi-dients”, have been “silently arrested” are without foundation or fact.”
According to the source, “both the Nigeria Police Force, NPF and the Department of State Services, DSS has officially confirmed that no arrests whatsoever – neither “silent arrests”, nor for that matter “open arrests” – have been made of any of Mr Obi’s supporters.
“The democratic process in Nigeria is free and fair and all candidates – whether those from the established parties or minor ones – have the absolute constitutional and God-given right to campaign openly and without hindrance,” said the source.
“What is also the case is that anyone who breaks the law – whether they are a supporter of the government party or opposition – must be held to account for their actions.
“If, for instance, opposition parties’ supporters damage private property in the course of a campaign, march or rally, should they not be held to account If, for instance, governing party supporters defame an opposition figure should they not be held to account? Of course, they all should.
“What is however known about a Labour Party member who was bailed by the party’s chairman in Lagos State is that on 30/09/22, one Joseph Chimezie ONUORAH Passport No: A12553760 who arrived Nigeria aboard Air France, was intercepted about 2230hrs at the E wing of MMIA Lagos by the Nigerian Immigration Service at the instance of the Lagos State Police Investigation Bureau for an investigation that concerned him.
“This also means that politicians from all sides of the political divide have a duty to maintain standards in public debate and refrain from making statements or accusations that could lead to the raising of tensions and make the prospect of aggressive physical behaviour more likely.
“Accusations that individuals have been “silently arrested” – and no one, frankly, knows what that description is supposed to mean – is an example of a statement made by a politician without any known foundation with the express intention of raising the temperature in this electoral contest. That cannot be good for democracy that thrives on facts and thinking, not on false statements and fiction.”