with agency reports
The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday accused the President Goodluck Jonathan led regime of using security agencies to prevent three of its governors from attending the grand finale of the party’s governorship campaign in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital.
This is just as the Rivers state government has expressed concern over the fate of its governor, Rotimi Amaechi, alleging he was being held hostage by the military to prevent him from attending the Ekiti rally.
But responding to the allegations, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Olajide Laleye, told PREMIUM TIMES that such incidents never occurred, saying “That’s ridiculous; on what grounds?
How could the military have arrested the governors? That’s not true, there was no arrest”.
Also, the General Manager, Public Affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Yakubu Dati, who doubles as coordinating spokesperson of the aviation agencies, said FAAN did not ground any aircraft.
However, our Benin correspondent reported that a helicopter chattered to fly Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole, from the Benin airport to Ado-Ekiti for the grand finale of the APC’s Ekiti governorship campaign, was grounded by agents of the federal government.
Commander of the 81 Air Maritime Group, Benin City, Air Commodore Soji Awomodu, had told the governor that he received “a call from above” that no private jet or helicopter be allowed to fly out of Benin City.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued yesterday in Ado-Ekiti by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the APC listed the three governors barred from the rally to include Oshiomhole, Amaechi, and Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso of Kano state.
The statement, while confirming the blockage of Oshiomhole’s chattered helicopter, said the plane that was flying Kwankwaso to Akure was denied permission to land.
The opposition party said while the plane carrying Amaechi actually landed in Akure, his convoy was stopped at the border between Ondo and Ekiti states, and were ordered to turn back because he would not be allowed to reach Ado-Ekiti.
The party said while Amaechi’s convoy was being detained in order to force him to return to Rivers state, the convoys of the Ministers of Defence and Police Affairs were allowed to pass to their various destinations.
APC therefore condemned, in the strongest terms, the abuse of national security institutions and power, saying it was because only the federal government had control over them.
”Several months ago, we warned that Nigeria under the watch of President Goodluck Jonathan was sliding into fascism and we were pilloried in certain quarters for daring to make such a statement. Today, we have sadly been vindicated. ”Not even in the worst days of the abhorrent military dictatorship were things done this brazenly, with citizens being denied their fundamental rights of free movement, free assembly and free expression, all because of the desperation by the ruling party to win elections at all costs.
”We therefore call on all good people of Nigeria and indeed all the country’s international friends to speak out against what is happening before things get out of hand. If democratically elected governors could be so shabbily treated, despite the high office they occupy, what will happen to ordinary Nigerians in the hands of an increasingly-fascist government?” APC queried.
Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Rivers Information Commissioner, Ibim Semenitari, stated that the Rivers state government was concerned about the safety of Governor Amaechi.
“The safety of Governor Amaechi who is right now being held hostage in commando style by soldiers and federal government security agents in Odudu, Ondo state, is our concern.
“Governor Amaechi as Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and, as an APC governor and chieftain, had left Port Harcourt this morning for Ekiti state where he was to join his brother governor in his last mega rally before the elections.
“Governor Amaechi was ambushed and refused entry into Ekiti by military personnel acting on orders from above. He made to turn back and return to Akure where his chattered aircraft was parked but was chased and rounded-up by armed soldiers and security personnel in Odudu,
Ondo state”, the statement said.
However, PREMIUM TIMES reported that the claim by APC that federal government officials prevented the plane carrying Kwankwaso from landing in Akure was false.
The online publication revealed that at the time the APC was claiming that the Kano governor was barred from getting to Ekiti, the spokesperson of the governor, Ibrahim Halilu Dantiye, confirmed to it that his boss was in Kano and had no plans to travel to Ekiti.
“The governor is in Kano here; he did not have plans of going to Akure”, the medium quoted the governor’s spokesman as saying.
In the meantime, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday warned the federal government against turning the country into a police state, following the restrictions placed some of the APC governors and party members who wished to attend the campaign rally in Ekiti.
A press statement from Atiku’s media office in Abuja, said the action of the PDP-led regime in stopping some governors from attending the APC governorship campaign rally in Ado-Ekiti yesterday, in a Gestapo-like manner, was capable of turning Nigeria into a Banana Republic where fundamental rights of citizens are trampled upon with impunity.
The Turaki Adamawa was particularly miffed at the way the government has been dragging the military and police into politics, warning that: “The government must stop instigating state security agents paid from taxpayers’ money against helpless, hapless and law abiding Nigerians”.
The APC top chieftain who promised at the party’s recent national convention that he would lead the vanguard to unseat the Jonathan administration he described as inept and incompetent, said: “Our gallant military men should remain focused on securing and protecting the territorial integrity of our great nation, especially in this time of terror attacks and insurgency across the country”.
Atiku also reminded Nigerians that “a government that deprives its citizens from access to jobs and education, as manifested by the on-going closure of some tertiary institutions, such as polytechnics, shut for nearly a year, has alienated itself from the masses and will definitely suffer the repercussion at the polls, use of force or not”.