Thirty-nine Senators of Nigeria’s opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Thursday, August 6, 2015, endorsed a document highlighting the PDP’s position on the ‘State of the Nation’. The 7-page document which addressed issues ranging from President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade, the use of DSS to harass INEC officials and the opposition, President Buhari’s outrageous ‘vote for patronage’ comment, among others, the PDP Senate caucus strongly protested the use of the Department of State Service (DSS) to hound PDP members and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Abia states.
Senator Godswill Akpabio, the Senate Minority Leader, addressed a press conference at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, and he was joined by 38 PDP Senators where the State of the Nation address was presented to the media.
Akpabio said that the national working committee of the PDP had sent a petition to the President on the matter. However, the caucus felt that the Nigerian people deserved to also read the petition, hence the calling of the press conference.
Ten of the Senators were not present at the briefing, but they endorsed the document which expressed displeasure over the use of the country’s Secret Police in attempts to truncate the democratic process.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for Akwa Ibom, Austin Okojie, who was detained tortured for 13 days and his Rivers State counterpart, Gesila Khan , who was also detained for two weeks by Nigeria’s secret police. The harassment, detention, and torture of electoral officials of the two oil rich states is connected with the interest of President Buhari in reclaiming electoral victory from main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in those states.
None of the INEC officials detained by the DSS have been charged with any crime and the election petitions filed by the APC is being tried at election tribunals.
President Buhari appointed Lawal Daura, his kinsman from his hometown in Katsina on July 2, as head of the DSS after firing Ita Ekpeyong. Daura was recalled from retirement as he had retired from the service of the DSS when he reached the mandatory age of 60 according to the Civil Service rules of Nigeria. He is also a member of Buhari’s political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and served on the security committee for Buhari’s presidential campaign.
Below is the full text of the statement. Also download it HERE.
2. Good Afternoon and welcome to this Special Press Conference of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caucus of the Senate, on this 6th August, 2015.
3. Ladies and Gentlemen of the press.
4. The PDP Caucus of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria congratulates Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR on his inauguration as the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The Caucus will give him all needed support to ensure his success as President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. However, the PDP Senate Caucus in exercise of her responsibilities to millions of Nigerians particularly the PDP supporters Nationwide shall from time to time draw the attention of the President and the Federal Government under his Leadership to events, issues and actions likely to cause a breach of peace and inimical to the growth and development, and the overall interest of all Nigerians.
We the Senators of the PDP in the 8th Senate also congratulate the Senate leadership particularly the Senate President, Dr Abubarkar Bukola Saraki, CON; the Deputy Senate Presidient, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, CFR; The Principal Officers of the Senate including our leader Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, CON; Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (Deputy Senate Minority Leader); Senator Phillip Aduda (Senate Minority Whip) and Senator Biodun Olujimi (Senate Deputy Minority Whip).
We reiterate the vote of confidence passed on the Senate Leadership under Senator Bukola Saraki by the entire 8th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
ANTI – CORRUPTION CRUSADE
The PDP Senate Caucus notes the crusade against corruption undertaken by the APC- led Federal Government and hereby declares her support to help rid Nigeria of corruption. However the Caucus is not happy with the current trend that seems to suggest that the war against corruption is selective and targeted at PDP stalwarts and states. The current war lacks transparency, fairness to all and appears to be aimed at political adversaries. It is on this ground that we condemn in particular what is happening in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Abia states where election umpires are daily arrested, their families and associates hounded, and judicial officers involved in election tribunals intimidated and questioned using trumped up petitions bordering on corruption. Yet these officials were part of the 2015 elections that produced President Buhari, an election adjudged to be generally free and fair by the international community.
DSS HARASSMENT OF ELECTORAL OFFICIALS IN RIVERS, ABIA, AND AKWA IBOM STATES
For emphasis, the PDP Senate Caucus is worried, alarmed and shocked by the recent development in our polity where the Department of State Security is now involved in electoral matters. A situation where officials of independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers State, Akwa Ibom and Abia 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 Department of State Security to meddle in a partisan manner in the political electoral process. The elections in Akwa Ibom, Rivers State, and Abia States (All PDP 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.
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.
Reports reaching the Caucus has it that INEC officials are being forced by DSS to produce falsified documents to support APC candidates cases before the tribunals. This is abominable and unacceptable. Mr President and all well-meaning Nigerians must intervene to preserve the independence of the tribunals and that of INEC.
The DSS must re-focus 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 is 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 to 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.
REVERSING “VOTE FOR PATRONAGE” COMMENTS EARLIER CREDITED TO MR PRESIDENT
We the PDP Caucus in the Senate wish to commend Mr President for retracting the comments earlier credited to him that “states shall benefit in this government to the extent of their votes.” We recall that 15
million Nigerians voted for the President out of the total registered 60 million voters strength. If patronage were based on those who voted for Mr President, 45 million Nigerians would be discriminated against including many states of the Federation.
The PDP Senate Caucus calls on Mr President to treat all Nigerians/States equally in line with his oath of
office as elections are over and to distinguish between electioneering and governance thereby giving hope to all sections of the country irrespective of party affiliations.
PDP SECRETARIAT STAFF MATTERS
May we use this medium to urge the staff of the PDP Secretariat to sheath their sword and to stop externalizing internal matters in their working environment. As major stakeholders, we commend the efforts of the National Working Committee (NWC) of our great party the PDP and hereby pass a vote of confidence on the NWC under the leadership of the Ag National Chairman Prince Uche Secondus. We also salute the leadership of the Chairman PDP Board of Trustees (BOT) Dr Bello Haliru Mohammed and the dedication of our teaming supporters across Nigeria. We call for a speedy resolution of the disagreement between the secretarial workers and the management.
Finally, the PDP Senate Caucus reiterates its support to Mr President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and his quest to bring about a greater Nigeria. We believe Nigeria and Nigerians can achieve a safe and prosperous nation and therefore express our wholehearted willingness to work with Mr President to make this happen.
The PDP Senate Caucus despite its formidable strength has resolved to offer only credible opposition that
would lead to the building of a better Nigeria, the Nigeria envisioned by our founding fathers where every citizen would be proud of the nation and her flag.
May God bless the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
May God bless us all.