John Ameh and Leke Baiyewu
Members of the All Progressives Congress and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in the House of Representatives have disagreed over the alarm raised by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration planned to frame him up.
While the APC lawmakers dismissed Obasanjo’s allegation, their PDP counterparts said it should be taken seriously.
The Chief Whip of the House, Mr Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, in an interview with The PUNCH, alleged that the former President was guilty, hence his fears.
He stated, “Indeed, the guilty are always afraid. Obasanjo’s claims are no more than a mere expression of guilt. Nigerians must not forget the huge financial scandals perpetrated under Obasanjo’s administration.
“The $ 16bn claimed to have been spent on power, the misappropriation involved in the so-called privatisation of government assets and the unprecedented abuse of our foreign reserves in his tenure to mention but a few, cannot be swept under the carpet.”
Speaking further, Ado-Doguwa, an APC member from Kano State, added, “It is only my hope that the Buhari anti-graft crusade will not be distracted by such a baseless outcry by Chief Obasanjo, trying to divert public attention.
“It’s my candid opinion that nobody is above the law. The government must, therefore, be ready to bring Obasanjo to book by compelling him to provide answers to some of the weighty allegations against him and his government.”
But a member of the PDP from Kogi State, Mr Karimi Sunday, asked the Buhari administration to come clean of fears being expressed by persons with opposition views that it planned to frame them up over crimes they did not commit.
He noted that Obasanjo, a former President, had access to privileged information and was not likely to be flippant.
Sunday spoke further, “The thing is that, could it be a coincidence that people with opposing views to the government’s are expressing these concerns?
“Recall that the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, raised a similar alarm shortly before the police linked him with the Offa robbery suspects.
“Now, it is Obasanjo, a former President, whom we can’t say is given to frivolity or can be presumed to speak without facts.
“It is even showing in the pattern the government is executing its anti-corruption war. All the major persons so far arraigned are the PDP members.
“Are we saying that there is no corrupt person in the APC? It is a serious issue that the government and especially, the President must address as we approach the 2019 polls.
Another member of the PDP from Ebonyi State, Mr Igariwey Iduma-Enwo, described the disagreement between Buhari and Obasanjo as “tragic”, considering that Obasanjo was instrumental to Buhari’s second return to power as a civilian President in 2015.
Iduma-Enwo, a lawyer, observed, “The face-off between the two generals is a tragic irony.
“Tragic in the sense that Chief Obasanjo and a good number of other prominent Nigerians who left the PDP and helped bring about this administration, are now being hounded by the same administration.”
But, an All Progressives Congress member from Lagos State, Mr James Faleke, dismissed Obasanjo’s fears, saying that he did not believe that Buhari would arrest him over trumped-up charges.
He argued that Buhari was a “due process” President, who would not abuse his powers to arrest Obasanjo simply because the former President had become his critic.
“Besides, Obasanjo has said that he is not one of the corrupt leaders.
“If he has no skeletons in his cupboard, it means that he has nothing to fear because he is clean.
“I do know that when Obasanjo was still in power, no one would have written him the letters he wrote Buhari and he would let him be. Yet, Buhari has not replied his letters,” Faleke added.
When contacted, the spokesman for the House, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, told The PUNCH that the House had “no comments” on the matter.
The Majority Leader of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, did not respond to inquiries by our correspondent.
On its part, the Senate said that it was watching the frame-up allegation by the ex-President. It, however, noted that the clampdown on dissenting voices could become a trend in the present administration.
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, who stated this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, recalled that the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, had earlier raised the alarm over an alleged plot to implicate him by the police in their investigations into the bank robberies in Offa, Kwara State.
Saraki had raised the alarm that the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, was plotting to frame him in the investigation of the crime.
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Murray-Bruce said, “The Senate President, at an open session claimed that he was to be framed (by the Nigeria Police) and that is exactly what Obasanjo has come out to say, that he was going to be framed. We are waiting to see what happens. If it happens, it is going to be a trend but if it does not, it is not a trend. Let us see what happens. Obasanjo, who was my boss and whom I love unconditionally, has said it. Let us see what happens.”
Also, the Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP, Taraba-South), described Obasanjo’s allegation as weighty. He charged the Federal Government to ensure adequate protection of the former president.
Bwacha said, “It is like a wake-up call. He said that it (the alleged plot) is to frame him up and possibly kill him. It is for the security agencies and all the arms of the government to keep watch and follow up on the event. It is not coming from just an ordinary Nigerian; it is coming from a former president.”
Asked if the alarm raised by Obasanjo was political as his critics had dismissed it, the lawmaker said, “Which politics? You don’t play politics with your life. Somebody said his life is in danger and you say it is politics, how would that be politics?”
He added, “I don’t think it is politics, the idea is for the appropriate agencies to sit up. We will also watch the events as they unfold, whether this allegation will be confirmed. And it not for us only, the international community is also watching. It is quite a weighty allegation.”
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