…APC to seek redress
BY JAMES OBUTE
Penultimate Wednesday a peace meeting at the instance of the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) in charge of zone 7 was held in Kaduna, where candidates of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and other political parties signed a peace pact, agreeing to provide an enabling environment for peaceful March 28 and April 11 general elections.
Among those that signed the peace agreement include the PDP candidate for the Kaduna State Guber poll, Ramallan Yero and his APC counterpart, Malam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai, a former Minister of FCT. However, this medium can authoritatively report that uncertainty looms if nothing is done to address the complaints of APC over the violent acts of Yero.
The AIG in charge of zone 7, comprising Niger, Kaduna and Abuja, Patrick Dokumor, who organised the peace accord, vowed to take on any candidate and their supporters who breach the peace and deal decisively with such errant persons.
The police on the final note assured all the candidates that it will provide an enabling environment for all candidates that will allow for peaceful campaigns and the general elections, but further warned that it will not tolerate any break down of law and order.
Despite the agreement, APC has observed that the current governor of the state, Yero, has been embarking on violent acts despite petition against him and does not see end to such actions except drastic steps is taken by human rights groups. The petition to human rights group, according to some sources, was as a result of the attitude of security operatives towards warnings from opposition party.
Some sources maintained that the security operatives usually rise up to challenge members of opposition parties whenever the ruling party made allegation that bothers on security but such complaints by opposition party usually fell on the deaf ears of the security agents as if they are arms of the ruling party.The APC Campaign Council had on 15th January, 2015 petitioned National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) after the governor was caught making inciting comments during launching of his campaign on 12th January, 2015.Yero had in the course of the launching threatened violence on APC supporters and also on the person of Malam Nasir el-Rufai, the APC governorship candidate.
The recent petition dated 9th February, 2015 and signed by the Director General, of APC Campaign Organization, Ben S.D. Kure and addressed to the chairman of NHRC is titled “The PDP’s Campaign of Violence and Mayhem in Kaduna”
Parts of the letter read: “We hereby write to request that your Commission should investigate, as a matter of urgent concern, the violence and mayhem in Rigasa, Bakin Ruwa and Kabala West areas of Kadunaon 02 February 2015. We demand an independent enquiry into the immediate and remote causes of the Aviolence, and reported killings, especially the role played by Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and his police security detail in the incident.
“You will recall that we wrote your Commission last month to draw your attention to the hate speech and incitement to violence contained in Governor Yero’s speech at the 12 January 2015 launch of his campaign. These threats have since been made real; culminating in the incident we are inviting you to investigate, he said.
He said disturbed by this vile distortion of what a political contest should be, the APC Kaduna State addressed a press conference in Kaduna on Tuesday, 3 February 2015, to draw attention to the outbreak of violence in the state. ‘We stated clearly our firm belief that Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and the PDP bear responsibility for the unfolding acts of violence, he said.
- Permit us to quote from the text of the press conference
“We make bold to say that responsibility for the mayhem, injuries and the loss of lives and property rest squarely with Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and his PDP government. You will recall that at the launch of his campaign last month, Yero incited his supporters to violence, apart from threatening the property, liberty and freedom of movement of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, our candidate for the governorship of this state. Our response to this threat was to ask our supporters not to respond to provocations. We also wrote to alert the National Human Rights Commission and representatives of the international community to this blatant instance of hate speech.
“In addition, the APC Kaduna State Campaign has taken several steps to discharge its responsibility to preserve peace in Kaduna State so that campaigns and the elections can take place in a competitive but calm atmosphere. Despite the fact that our campaign itinerary had long been concluded, with a zonal rally for Kaduna Central fixed for Kaduna last Saturday, 31 January 2015, we delayed the conclusion of our Zone 2 tour last week once we learnt that the PDP had scheduled a presidential rally for the same day. We followed up the suspension of campaign activities in Kaduna by running massive radio announcements to advise our supporters to stay off the streets during the PDP’s rally to avoid being the victims of the callous shoot-at-sight order given to soldiers and security agents. We also shifted our campaign activities to Zone 3, three days earlier than scheduled, precisely to deny and frustrate the PDP’s plan to unleash violence and blame it on us.
“You can therefore imagine our outrage that Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero yesterday supervised hoodlums and thugs on a rampage against people and properties. It is bad enough that his entourage attacked and destroyed billboards of General Muhammadu Buhari and Malam Nasir El-Rufai in the Bakin Ruwa and Kabala West areas of Kaduna, the state capital. It is worse that residents who challenged this act of wanton vandalisation were attacked and beaten by the thugs. It is worst that Yero was in the motorcade as his henchmen attacked persons and property with a ferocity that claimed lives. Yero’s security detail got in the unfortunate action, shooting at citizens who happened to be in the area.
“The Kaduna State APC has been warning for weeks that the PDP government has chosen a strategy of violence as the best guarantee against their imminent defeat…
“The Kaduna State APC is calling on INEC and the security agencies to firmly stop Yero from upsetting the peace and turning Kaduna into a theatre of war. We are appealing to the sense of honour of security agents and reminding them of their oath of allegiance to Nigeria, not any government or individual.
“Election is a civilised contest and we cannot allow Yero to turn his impending defeat into an inferno for everyone.”
Kure said “the APC Kaduna State also wishes to bring to your attention the following anti-democratic actions the PDP is planning or already perpetrating:
“Plans to inflict violence on the person, family and property of APC leaders in Kaduna State. We are concerned by reports of plans to arrest our governorship and senatorial candidates, and other pillars of the party in an amplification of the vile strategy that was employed in Ekiti State.
“Arranging to frame false charges against our stakeholders at the grassroots in order to arraign them and keep them out of circulation before the elections,
“using traditional rulers and religious leaders to incite society against the opposition,
“employing military units and other security forcestAo intimidate the populace and engage in clandestine operations for the PDP,” he said.
According to him, the APC Kaduna State believes that any action that violates human liberty or prejudices the right to freely express preferences in an electoral contest is a vitiation of constitutionally guaranteed rights. “We ask your Commission to take steps to protect the residents of Kaduna State against this blatant violation of rights.