Anti-graft war: PDP senators tackle Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP senators were last night engaged in a war of words over alleged biases in the administration's war against corruption. The PDP senators particularly accused the administration of partisanship in the anti-graft war with allegations that security agencies were coercing election officials to rewrite reports in some states to the favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The allegations were immediately rebuffed by the President who vowed that the unfolding war against corruption would not be tempered by media blitz of a witch-hunt against political interests as he affirmed that only the guilty should have reason to fear.
President Buhari's assertion was a direct riposte to assertions by the Senator Godswill Akpabio-led PDP Senate caucus that the President was using the instruments of state to target the opposition.
The PDP caucus had at a press conference in the National Assembly building alleged that the Department of State Services was coercing officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to be conscripted into plots to undermine the election of PDP officials in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia States.
The assertion of the PDP caucus was also dismissed by All Progressives Congress, APC, spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who also told Vanguard that only the guilty have something to fear about the Buhari administration.
Only the guilty should be afraid
Buhari, speaking through his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina rebutted the accusation of the PDP Senate caucus, saying that it was natural for the guilty to be afraid.
He stated that the anti-graft war which was one of the cardinal objectives of the administration would increasingly pick momentum irrespective of the threats against it.
“It is only the guilty that can be afraid. If anybody is not guilty, they should not be afraid. This President will not witch-hunt anybody. But if anyone has a skeleton in his cupboard, he has every right to be afraid.
“If they don't have skeletons in their cupboard, they have no cause to be afraid but anybody that has any skeleton in his cupboard has every right to be afraid.
“The war against corruption is one of the cardinal objectives of this administration and the war will not hold on because some people are afraid.
“The war will continue, no matter whose ox is gored. So, if anybody has skeleton in his cupboard, yes, he has a right to be afraid but the war is not targeted at anybody”, Adesina said.
Earlier at a press conference, Akpabio, in company of 22 PDP senators expressed concern that the administration's anti-graft war seemed targeted at the PDP and states controlled by the party.
He particularly took umbrage at what he described as the meddlesome activities of the Department of State Services in ongoing election petition cases in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Abia States.
He said that the PDP legislators have thus been persuaded to write the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee, to inform the body of the alleged unconstitutional roles of the DSS.
PDP senators slam DSS
“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.
“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.”
He continued: “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 Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Abia states (all PDP states) were held and adjudged successful and credible by Prof. Attahiru Jega, the erstwhile chairman of INEC.
“At this period of renewed onslaught by terrorists 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 property of 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 at tribunals for APC, what image would have been created for Nigeria's democracy?”
The caucus called on President Buhari to immediately intervene and refrain the DSS from partisanship.
Senator Akpabio also spoke on reported comments attributed to the President that he would show more attention to areas that gave him votes in the election and called on him to refrain from such.
PDP crying wolf — APC
The assertions of the PDP Senate caucus were dismissed by APC spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed who, while saying that only the guilty have something to fear from the Buhari government, explained the party's involvement of the DSS in the prosecution of its election petition.
He said: “Unfortunately for the PDP they have been used to a reign of impunity where court orders are not obeyed. After the years of impunity especially in the last six years, PDP has forgotten that a government will come and that it will keep strictly to the rule of law. The truth of the matter is that it is the PDP in collusion with some INEC officials in Rivers State and at the headquarters of INEC that have been trying to frustrate the APC's petition in Rivers State.
“They have serially disobeyed the rulings of the tribunal and their game plan is to frustrate every step along the way so that the 180 days would have expired. It was in realisation of this that the APC in Rivers State wrote a petition to both the police and the DSS asking them to intervene to ensure that tribunal orders are obeyed and what the PDP did was to misinform the public about victimisation by the DSS.
“There is nothing that the DSS is doing that it is not empowered to do. We want to state clearly that the APC is not using any agency of government to intimidate or witch-hunt anybody. Like we always say, it is only those who are guilty that have anything to fear,” the APC spokesman said.
The allegation was also dismissed by Senator Dino Melaye who said the DSS was merely doing its work just as he said Buhari's fight against corruption had not tilted towards one direction to suggest he was witch-hunting select people.
He said during the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan, the DSS was reduced to an arm of PDP, where officials were sent to hound members of opposition parties.Vanguard
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