Text of a press conference by the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, at the PDP National Secretariat, Abuja.
Gentlemen of the press,
We have called you up this Sunday afternoon to address you and through you alert all Nigerians and indeed the international community of a grievous development that is a major threat to our democracy and lives as individuals.
As we address you today, our nation and its citizens are facing a serous danger. We are at the verge of a quick slide into dictatorship and the personal freedom entrenched in the polity in the last 16 years by the PDP is about to be obliterated.
Recall that as a party committed to the unity of the nation and freedom of all Nigerians, we have always expressed fears and doubt regarding the capacity of the APC to pilot the affairs of this country within the generally acceptable democratic tenets.
Our fear all along derives from the poor democratic credentials of most of their leaders, their appetite for violence and overall dictatorial tendencies
Having grabbed the power through fathom promises, Nigerians have seen how the APC in their confusion triggered by greed and lust for power by it leaders have been finding it difficult to form a government almost 40 days after inauguration of the President.
We have also witnessed a relentless onslaught against statutory institutions of democracy and such as the National Assembly where legislative activities have been brought to a halt as well as in INEC which independence has been stripped all due to unwarranted executive interferences ostensibly in line with the agenda to undermine and weaken all statutory instruments of checks and transparency in the polity.
However, today, we have called you to intimate you that the APC’s inclination for totalitarianism has assumed a more alarming dimension with direct threats to life, crude harassment and intimidation of opposition leaders and those holding contrary opinion.
In the last few weeks, our members have become an endangered group for daring to openly criticize President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC for the crisis in their camp, their lack of capacity to get organized and form a government, the interference in the activities of the National Assembly and demand for the implementation of their campaign promises to Nigerians.
As we address you today, some key leaders of our party have been marked for elimination, especially since the emergence of the leadership of the National Assembly which did not go the way of the President and the leadership of the APC, especially the election of PDP’s Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President.
The leadership of the PDP has received a report from the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu of various threats to his life and other forms of intimidation and blackmail from the APC, some federal security agencies and even the Presidency.
As you may be well aware, President Buhari and the APC leaders have not hidden their bitterness and resentment towards Senator Ekweremadu whose offence is the privilege of being elected by his colleagues (APC and PDP senators alike) as Deputy Senate President in line with the Standing Rules of the Senate and the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Since the President’s unfortunate and unwarranted declaration of Senator Ekweremadu’s election as ‘unacceptable’ to him, the Deputy Senate President, who can only be removed through a two-thirds majority vote by senators, has come under incessant threats and intense pressure to resign and allow an APC senator to take his position.
However, having failed to force him to resign, the desperate APC federal government has now engaged in heinous plots to eliminate the Deputy Senate President.
Apparently to ensure that the agenda is given official stamp, the Inspector General of Police, acting on instructions, has invited the Deputy Senate President with a view to arresting him over phantom charges as a build up to incarcerate him, create a vacuum in the Senate and pave the way for the imposition of their preferred senator to take over his position.
“We are aware that senators in the Senator Ahmed Lawan’s group met with President Buhari and received assurances that the Inspector General of Police will be directed to arrest the Deputy Senate President and falsely accuse him of altering the Senate Rules on the process of election of the Presiding Officers.
The Lawan group were consequently directed to composed a petition based on which the police via a letter dated July 1, 2015 and signed by the Deputy Inspector General in charge of criminal investigation at the Force Headquarters has invited the Deputy Senate President to appear tomorrow, Monday, July 6, 2015where he will be detained and put under pressure with forged documents already forwarded to the police by the APC.
Apart from the fact that the Constitution clearly guarantees the two chambers of the National Assembly the powers to regulate their proceedings without external interferences, we note that the petition by the Lawan group lacks merit as Senator Ekweremadu, who was a senator-elect prior to the inauguration of the Senate and the election of presiding officers, could not have been involved in the process of producing the 2015 Standing Rules of the Senate which was strictly done by the bureaucracy under the Clerk to the National Assembly.
Furthermore, Senator Ekweremadu was not in any way involved in the process order than being nominated for the position of the Deputy Senate President and could not have been privy to the secret ballot procedure adopted by the National Assembly bureaucracy, which has been widely adjudged as transparent and credible.
Also, apart from plans to use security apparatus against the Deputy Senate President, we have information that there are instructions to certain officials at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to alter some electoral documents and records to create the impression that Senator Ekweremadu did not file proper documents for the general elections and pave the way for his removal.
In line with the above plot, the APC has been having secret meetings with some judges and lawyers to procure injunctions to prevent the Deputy Senate President from playing his role in the Senate.
We are also aware that part of the plot is a conspiracy to tarnish Senator Ekweremadu’s image and open him to public ridicule. Last Monday, the Senator Lawan group and some APC leaders met at the residence of their national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to perfect a plot to blackmail the Deputy Senate President. Already, they have procured a notorious female blackmailer from the United States who has been working for Senator Tinubu to handle the dirty job.
We may, therefore, not be surprised to see outlandish publications against the Deputy Senate President in the media in the coming weeks. The nation now knows ahead of time the source of such publications when they eventually start rolling out.
The PDP wishes to state, and in clear terms too, that the Presidency and APC leaders should be held responsible if any harm comes to the Deputy Senate President or any of our party leaders for that matter.
We state this because, information available to us indicates that there are also plans to compromise security around the Deputy Senate President to make him vulnerable and open for sponsored violent attacks. This will be followed with onslaughts against other key PDP leaders and Nigerians who hold contrary opinion to that of the APC-led government.
Whilst we do hope that the era of political assassination is not about to return in Nigeria, we want the nation and the international community to note that President Buhari’s statement against the election of Senator Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President as well as his language and posture against the opposition constitute a direct threat and fall short of our expectation and respect for him not only as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but also his status and age as an elder statesman to whom Nigerians graciously gave the mandate to lead in a democratic setting.
In Nigeria, the constitution empowers each chamber of the National Assembly to choose its leadership without external interferences. Senators in their wisdom and in exercise of that power and in line with the provisions of the standing rules of the Senate, chose Senator Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively and the constitution is clear on the process for their removal from office.
The Presidency and the APC should not, in any way, take our civility, decency and commitment to national peace and stability for granted. They should rather be thankful to Senator Ekweremadu and other PDP senators, who in their maturity and discipline stuck to the decision of our party to support Senator Saraki and restrained themselves from using their majority status on the day of Senate inauguration to take over the positions of the Senate President and that of Deputy Senate President, while APC senators where busy attending a party meeting at the International Conference Center (ICC).
The APC and the Presidency must understand that no amount of threats, intimidation and blackmail will make the Deputy Senate President abandon the mandate freely given to him by the Senate, or compel the PDP to abdicate its responsibility as an opposition party, a role we will continue to play with every sense of restrain, civility and patriotism.
On this note, we urge all our citizens, the civil society and indeed the international community, especially the United States, which is billed to receive President Buhari in the coming days, to note the development in Nigeria, the onslaught against the opposition, eroding of personal freedom, threats to life, disruption of the legislative activities of the National Assembly, undermining of the independence of our electoral body and other dangerous signals that the nation may be on a slide to totalitarianism.
As a party that sustained and nurtured democracy in the last 16 years, the PDP cannot fold its hands and watch but will stand with Nigerians in resisting the ruling party in its attempt to change our country from a democratic state where personal freedom of all citizens to hold opinion and to politically aspire is guaranteed, to a nation where despotism, fear, clamp down on opposition and of course the media will be the order of the day.