John Alechenu, John Ameh, Kamarudeen Ogundele, Chukwudi Akasike, Etim Ekpimah, Leke Baiyewu,Godwin Isenyo, Chidiebube Okeoma, Tony Okafor and Umar Muhammed
The Peoples Democratic Party on Thursday in Abuja, Imo, Anambra, Nasarawa and other states across the country protested against the alleged assault on the Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, by the police on Wednesday.
In Abuja, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus, led the National Working Committee of the party to the National Assembly to protest against the alleged assault on Fayose.
Also at the protest, which was held at the main gate to the National Assembly Complex, were a former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara; a former Minister of Health, Prof. ABC Nwosu; former National Woman Leaders, Josephine Anenih and Kema Chikwe; and a former Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Mulikat Akande-Adeola.
The protesters, who were received by Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, in company with the Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, decried the invasion of the state by security forces. Secondus presented a petition by the party to Ekweremadu.
The PDP boss stated that the way the All Progressives Congress administration and the Independent National Electoral Commission would handle the governorship election in Ekiti would determine what Nigerians should expect from the general election in 2019.
Secondus said, “Just yesterday (Wednesday), there was a civilian coup. The Ekiti State Government House was sealed and the governor was brutalised, detained and harmed. We believe that, that was an assault on democracy. The first point of call for this peaceful demonstration is the National Assembly. We believe that we should register our protest, for the National Assembly to quickly intervene through their oversight function on the executive.
“We are aware and we have been reliably informed that INEC and a section of the security agencies are preparing to rig the election in Ekiti, that is why Ekiti today has been militarised and policed. Over 30,000 policemen are in Ekiti. The citizens of Ekiti are afraid, they are traumatised, they are harassed and they are being guarded not to come out of their homes.
“We also call on international community to see and watch what is happening in Ekiti. If this is the type of democracy and election that they tend to conduct – by the APC and INEC – it means the 2019 general election is seriously under threat; and we believe that if they continue in this manner, and if they rig the election in Ekiti, there will be nothing like 2019 elections.
“The security agencies cannot be above the law. The executive cannot be above the law. We are aware that INEC has printed result sheets, to do replacement (sic) by some security agencies.”
Responding, Ekweremadu thanked the PDP leaders for their peaceful approach to the issues in Ekiti.
He said, “We have heard you. 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.”
PDP members protest in Imo
In Imo State, the PDP members protested on the streets of Owerri ,the state capital on Thursday, to condemn the alleged manhandling of Fayose.
The PDP members who demonstrated round the metropolis, headed to the state police command headquarters where they submitted a petition addressed to the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, through the state Commissioner of Police, Dasuki Galandanchi.
Addressing the police commissioner, the PDP Chairman in the state, Charles Ezekwem ,said that the members of the party nationwide were not happy with the alleged brutality meted out to the governor.
Nasarawa PDP submits petition to police
Also, the opposition party protested in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital. Addressing the party supporters from the 13 local government areas, the state Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Francis Orogwu, expressed concern over the alleged ill-treatment of Fayose.
In a five-paragraph protest submitted to the state Commissioner of Police, Nasarawa State Command, Mr. Yahaya Bello, Orogwu said the IGP should remain neutral in the Ekiti State election and the 2019 polls.
Anambra PDP protests attack on Fayose
In Anambra State, the PDP members on Thursday took their protest to the Anambra Police Command over the alleged attack and molestation of Fayose on Wednesday by the police.
The party members who staged the peaceful protest in front of the police headquarters in Amawbia, described the attack as a threat to democracy.
The chairman of the party in the state, Ndubisi Nwobu, said the leadership of the party was at the police headquarters to express their grievances, as well as submit their letter of disapproval of the act to Idris.
Describing the police as a peacekeeping body which ought to maintain neutrality, Nwobu urged the force to caution its men and play the role of an unbiased umpire at the Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
Responding, the state Commissioner of Police, Garba Umar, assured them that their letter would get to the appropriate authorities for prompt attention.
Garba, who was represented by a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Chris Afolabi, commended them for their peaceful conduct.
Ekiti attack will be replicated in Rivers – Wike
Also, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said that the action of security operatives in Ekiti State would be replicated in Rivers State and the entire country in 2019.
Wike, who spoke in Port Harcourt on Tuesday night, described the incident as a foretaste of what the Federal Government had planned for Nigeria in a bid to retain power after losing the support of Nigerians.
Wike said, “I wish to also draw the attention of the people of Rivers State to the fact that what is happening at Ekiti State is clearly a foretaste of what the APC-led Federal Government has planned to unleash on our state and indeed, the entire country, in their desperate attempt to rig 2019 general elections and retain or return to power having performed woefully and lost the support of the generality of Nigerians.”
On his part, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, condemned the alleged attack on Fayose.
Speaking with journalists at the Government House in Uyo on Thursday, Emmanuel described the incident as a fragrant abuse of democratic process in Nigeria.
Also, a PDP presidential aspirant, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, said the alleged police attack on Fayose portended danger for the nation’s fledgling democracy.
In a statement by his spokesman, Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo in Kaduna, Makarfi said that the attack was an ominous sign ahead of the 2019 general elections.
We reject PDP’s claims on police deployment – APC
But the APC rejected claims by the PDP that policemen drafted to Ekiti State were deployed to work for the APC candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
This was contained in a statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, in Abuja, on Thursday.
The statement read, “We reject the claim by the Peoples Democratic Party that policemen were drafted to Ekiti State to harass the PDP supporters in Saturday’s governorship election in favour of the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
“As usual with elections, extra-security deployment is routine to keep the peace for credible and transparent elections.”
Senate caucus demands probe, to meet Fayose
Meanwhile, the Senate closed plenary on Thursday before the normal time over an emergency meeting held by the PDP Caucus on the matter.
The Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, who coordinated activities during the session, called for standing down of the remaining items on the Order Paper, more than one hour ahead of the normal 2pm closing time, as the presiding officer had an urgent matter to attend to.
Ekweremadu, shortly before adjournment, announced that there would be an emergency meeting by the PDP lawmakers.
After the closed-door meeting which lasted over one hour, the caucus resolved to urge the Federal Government to investigate the alleged attack on Fayose and prosecute the suspects.
The Chairman of the Senate PDP Caucus, Godswill Akpabio, said it was also resolved that a five-man panel should be sent to Ekiti on a fact-finding mission. The delegation would also meet with Fayose to get details of the alleged attack.
Reps ask INEC, police, others to ensure free, fair poll
In the House of Representatives, members asked INEC, the police and other security agencies to uphold democratic tenets by conducting a free and fair governorship poll on Saturday (tomorrow).
The House warned against intimidation and harassment of voters or attempts to use security operatives to impose a particular candidate on Ekiti voters.
In a resolution it passed in Abuja, the House called for an investigation into the alleged attack on Fayose.
It followed a motion moved by a member from Kogi State, Mr. Tajudeen Yusuf, who recalled how the police reportedly interrupted a campaign rally led by Fayose and allegedly shot at people in Ado-Ekiti.
In the motion, Yusuf accused the police of being partisan by siding with the APC ahead of the Saturday’s poll.
Yusuf urged the House to condemn the incident and to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the police to “render an apology to Nigerians.”
He added, “INEC and all security agencies must ensure that the Ekiti poll is free, fair and credible.”
Several members, including Mr Kingsley Chinda and Mr Karimi Sunday, also condemned the development in Ekiti, saying that it portrayed Nigeria in a bad light before the international community.
However, some members called for caution, advising the House against being judgmental, since it had yet to confirm that Fayose was truly attacked.
A member from Borno State, Mr Mohammed Monguno, said, “While the governor said he was attacked, another version is that commercial transporters were protesting because the governor promised them money that he could not pay.
“The full story will come out of the investigation and we should not be judgmental.”
Another member from Kano State, Mr. Aminu Suleiman, made a similar intervention. But, his attempts to cast aspersions on Fayose led to protests by the PDP members.
Suleiman had said he did not believe that Fayose was attacked, claiming that he was acting before cameras.
“Fayose behaved like a Nollywood actor; as far as I am concerned, nothing happened to him.
“How come no other person except him was injured? He just fell down and started acting,” Suleiman stated.
The lawmaker also reminded the House that in 2014 when the PDP controlled the Federal Government, the latter too used security agencies to intimidate voters the way it liked.
But, he earned the anger of the PDP, whose members insisted he must apologise for his comments.
Suleiman refused to apologise in spite of being directed to do so by the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara. The speaker immediately shut down his microphone. The motion was eventually passed in a majority voice vote.
Police withdraw cops from Ekiti Govt House
Meanwhile, police have withdrawn their operatives from the entrances to Ekiti Government House and the Kolapo Olusola Campaign Office in Ado Ekiti.
Riot-policemen had on Tuesday manned the entrances when President Muhammadu Buhari came for the APC rally and returned on Wednesday.
They dispersed supporters and members of the PDP from the campaign office on Wednesday, saying no permit was obtained.
One of our correspondents observed that the entrances to the government house were free for vehicles to go in and out on Thursday.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations, Mr. Habilal Joshak, also appeared on the state-owned television station where he denied ordering his men and officers to use tear gas on the crowd.
“What I said was that those massing for the rally should be asked to leave because it is not good going by the mood of the state now to hold rally or street procession. I didn’t say they should use force.
“This is an election and electioneering is a civil matter anywhere across the globe, so police as security agents can’t use force on the people.
“But I want to assure the good people of Ekiti State that such a mistake will never repeat itself,” Joshak stated.
The Special Assistant to Governor Fayose on Public Communications, Lere Olayinka, said the governor had been discharged from the hospital and now stabilising.
“The governor is now better and stabilising fast. He is out of hospital and I believe he will get well soon,” he said.
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