Oscar Chukwugekwu, Abuja
Senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday alleged a high level conspiracy by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to use the Department of State Security (DSS) to intimidate and jail and jail their party chieftains in opposition states.
The lawmakers also accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of using the DSS, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to upturn the victories of the PDP governors and their lawmakers at the last general elections.
But the Senate spokesperson, Senator Dino Melaye, who reacted to the allegations of the PDP Caucus, described as shocking that such allegations were coming from the PDP.
Addressing the Senate correspondents shortly, after the Plenary Session, the leader of the Caucus, who is also the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Gidswill Akpabio, declared that Buhari is being selective in his perceived anti-corruption war and probe.
“For emphasis, the PDP Senate Caucus is worried, alarmed and shocked by the recent development in our polity, where the DSS is now involved in electoral matters. A situation, where officials of the INEC in Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states (all PDP states) are daily being arrested, detained and questioned on politically motivated corruption allegations, is worrisome and spells doom for our democracy unless the trend is reversed.
“No democracy survives without a viable opposition in any part of the world. INEC is supposed to be an independent commission, and its officials ought to be shielded from partisanship.
“The arrest of electoral officials in states APC did not win elections in an APC-led Federal Government is a source of worry to this Caucus and indeed all lovers of democracy worldwide. There is no provision in our laws that allows the DSS to meddle in a partisan manner in the political electoral process.
“The elections in Abia, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states were held and adjudged successful and credible by Prof. Attahiru Jega, the erstwhile Chairman of INEC. Equally dissatisfied and aggrieved parties have gone to courts in conformity with our laws to seek redress.
“The intrusion by the DSS in arresting, coercing, intimidating and harassing INEC officials in a democracy is most condemnable. Though these arrests, coercion, detention and harassment are happening in only PDP-controlled states, we would still have condemned these actions, if they had taken place in APC-controlled states since these actions are strange to democratic ethics and practices all over the world,” he said.
Akpabio expressed further worries that the attention of the DSS is being diverted, as its activities have been compromised.
“At this period of renewed onslaught by terrorists/Boko Haram in the North Eastern part of our dear nation, we expect security agencies to deploy their assets and manpower towards recovering lost territories and ensuring the safety and security of lives and properties of all Nigerians. We condemn these arrests, describe them as illegal, a total misplacement of priority, a waste of tax payers’ money in an economically challenging time, and a serious threat to democracy.
“Should the DSS succeed in coercing electoral officials of INEC to recant their signatures to documents and therefrom obtain undeserved victories in tribunals for APC, what image would have been created for Nigeria’s democracy? We call on the President to intervene and refrain the DSS from partisanship,” he added.
According to the ex-governor of Akwa Ibom State, the PDP has unearthed reports reaching the Caucus that INEC officials are being forced by DSS to produce falsified documents to support APC candidates’ cases before tribunals.
“This is abominable and unacceptable. Mr President and all well-meaning Nigerians must intervene to preserve the independence of the tribunal and that of INEC.
“The DSS must refocus its energy towards its primary role of preserving peace, protecting lives, ensuring internal security and order, preventing mutiny or violent and unconstitutional takeover of government. In the past, many Nigerians were able to sleep with their eyes closed because of the noble role played by the DSS.
“This same DSS helped in wiping out kidnapping in South-East, South-South and other parts of Nigeria in collaboration with other security services. Their efforts in intelligence gathering to assist in the war against insurgency are applauded by all Nigerians.
“The DSS cannot and should not now become a political tool to win cases for APC candidates in courts and tribunals. We plead with Mr. President to stop this operation capture Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Abia states by all means by certain APC schemers. Mr. President, please restore confidence in the polity by putting an end to all witch hunts, illegal arrests, detention and harassment,” he added.
Akpabio also disclosed that their concern would be sent to the Peace and Reconciliation Committee headed by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
In his reaction to the PDP Caucus allegations, Melaye, said that it is shocking that such were coming from the PDP.
“We were in a government, where the DSS was an appendage of the PDP. The President (Buhari) is only trying to do things right. Nigerians suffered interference in the hands of the DSS in the past. The wife of (Senator Abubakar Bukola) Saraki is (also) being investigated,” he added.
Our correspondent reports that the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, was present at the briefing by the PDP Senate Caucus.