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Opposition mobilising Boko Haram insurgents, bandits to perpetrate violence during election: Lai Mohammed

By The Rainbow
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The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has accused the opposition of mobilising armed bandits and Boko Haram insurgents to perpetrate massive acts of violence during the general elections.

Mr Mohammed made the allegation on Monday while briefing reporters in Abuja, the nation's capital.

He claimed that the plan was to disrupt the polls in several states in the north-east, north-west, and north-central states of the country.

“Before you accuse the government of crying wolf, let me tell you, gentlemen, that we have credible intelligence that armed bandits and Boko Haram insurgents have been mobilised to engage in massive attacks and other acts of violence in several states across the country, including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Benue, Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara,” he alleged.

The minister alleged further, “The Benue-based armed criminal group, led by Terwase AKWAZA, also known as Gana, has been commissioned to strike soft targets in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba States.

“In Kano State, a group of notorious miscreants have been mobilised by some prominent opposition leaders to provoke massive chaos before, during and after the elections.”

The minister insisted that having noticed their dwindling fortunes, the alleged plot by the opposition was to spread violence across the country to truncate the electoral process.

He claimed that this was intended to cause a constitutional crisis which he said would snowball into the establishment of an interim government.

Mr Mohammed further urged Nigerians to be vigilant and be ready to cast their votes come the elections.

He assured them that the Federal Government would take pre-emptive measures to ensure their safety before, during and after the elections.

The minister said, “The administration's commitment to a credible, free, fair and peaceful elections is unshaken.

“After all, according to the online encyclopedia – Wikipedia – elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century.”

Mr Mohammed neither confirmed nor denied when asked if more security personnel would be deployed in the run up to the elections.

According to him, no country in the world reveals its intelligence gathering mechanism.

In a swift reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) denied the allegations through its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.

Mr Ologbondiyan, who also addressed a press conference at the Legacy House in the nation's capital, said the claims by Mr Mohammed were false, ridiculous, and irresponsible.

He, however, thanked the minister for revealing what he described as the “nefarious plans” of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the public.

The PDP spokesman went on to accuse the ruling party of working with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to rig the elections.

He alleged that this was why the government kept Mrs Amina Zakari in the commission and insisted that her appointment as chairperson of the Collation Centre Committee must be reversed.

Read the full statement by the minister below;

TEXT OF THE WORLD PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON MONDAY, 21 JANUARY 2019

Good morning gentlemen, and welcome to this press conference

2. As you are aware, Nigeria goes to the polls just 27 days from now. However, the Federal Government is in possession of credible intelligence to the effect that widespread violence being orchestrated by the opposition is threatening the 2019 general elections.

3.  You have definitely seen the massive and warm reception that President Muhammadu Buhari has been receiving across the country, compared to the thinning crowds that have been attending the opposition rallies. Having realised that their fortunes have dwindled badly ahead of the polls, the desperate opposition is orchestrating widespread violence with a view to truncating the elections, thus triggering a constitutional crisis that could snowball into the establishment of an interim government.

4.   Before you accuse the government of crying wolf, let me tell you, gentlemen, that we have credible intelligence that armed bandits and Boko Haram insurgents have been mobilised to engage in massive attacks and other acts of violence in several states across the country, including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Benue, Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba, and Zamfara.

5.  The Benue-based armed criminal group, led by Terwase AKWAZA, also known as Gana, has been commissioned to strike soft targets in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba states. In Kano State, a group of notorious miscreants has been mobilised by some prominent opposition leaders to provoke massive chaos before, during and after the elections.

There is also an international dimension to the evil plan. Some armed mercenaries from Niger Republic have been contracted to attack top government functionaries, including state governors, across the North-west between now and the elections.

6.  The Federal Government is taking every possible measure to counter these evil plans by unpatriotic anarchists and ensure the success of the 2019 General Elections. The Administration's commitment to credible, free, fair and peaceful elections is unshaken. After all, according to the online encyclopedia – Wikipedia – elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century.

7.  We appeal to all Nigerians to be vigilant in the days ahead. We also appeal to the media to help in sensitising members of the public on these observed threats, which are capable of disrupting the elections. The punchline of our long-running campaign on security – if you see something, say something – remains relevant, perhaps even more, at this time.

8.  Finally, all the relevant agencies under the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture will work together to ensure that Nigerians are alerted to the dangers posed to the forthcoming elections by unscrupulous, unpatriotic and desperate characters who will not hesitate to destabilise the country if they cannot achieve their inordinate ambition.

9.   I thank you all for your kind attention. I will now take questions that are relevant only to the issues that I have raised at this press conference. Channels