Afenifere, Igbo leaders tackle Mohammed over treason, polls claims
• Yoruba group accuses Minister of seeking Tinubu’s favour amid strained relationship
• Stop harbouring IPOB members, Mohammed tells world leaders
• IPOB to army chief: Rescue Sharibu before threatening us
• CNPP: FG, security agencies taking sides with APC over post-election matters
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday, tackled the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, over his stance on the outcome of the just-concluded general elections, which he said was credible.
While addressing some international media organisations in Washington D.C. on the elections, on Tuesday, Mohammed had said the polls were the “fairest, most transparent and most authentic in the history of Nigeria.”
The mainstream Yoruba group, emphasised that the stance of Mohammed on the polls had continued to impact negatively on the image of the country, particularly, that the claims were made outside the shores of Nigeria.
The group, in a statement, signed, and made available to The Guardian by the Secretary-General of Afenifere, Sola Ebiseni, stressed the Information Minister had arrogated powers of the court to himself.
While alleging that the Minister was desperate to find his way back into the camp of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, after a strained relationship, Afenifere disclosed that the situation had led Mohammed to dish out false claims over the election.
“One wonders what is left for the courts to decide after the crude analysis by Mohammed of the performances of the candidates, the figures of which he effortlessly and shamelessly bacterised.
“He cheekily awarded figures to the candidates: 8.79 million and one-quarter of 29 states to the ruling party, 6.9 million and 21 states to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and 5.8 million and 15 states to the Labour Party (LP), which is contrary to results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and even being hotly contested in court.
“Mohammed’s disrespect for the courts before, which those facts have been submitted for fair and independent adjudication is beyond the realm of contempt; it is treasonable because of his high office.”
Continuing, Afenifere said: “Talking about treasonable comments, Mohammed may need to rewind his own past statements, particularly, the interview he granted Premium Times on April 27, 2013, wherein, he said ‘Democracy will fail in Nigeria unless APC wins in 2015.’
“The threats and declarations of comments by members of the opposition as treason, by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, are becoming most foreboding, ominous and tantamount to justifying its imminent clampdown.
“It is ridiculous that the same government that permissively watched leaders and spokespersons of the ruling party and their thugs openly execute their treasonable acts against the people and the democratic process in flagrant disrespect for the Constitution would expect the decent world to take it seriously in its shameful sanctimonious preaching on the allegation of treason.
“In sum, it is clear that the burden of democracy, where Nigerians, particularly the youths, have insisted that things be done differently and rightly, is too weighty for this government and its agents. Unfortunately, Mohammed in America has chosen the wrong congregation for his anti-democratic sermons.”
However, continuing his foreign media rounds yesterday, the Minister called on Western countries to stop harbouring members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The Minister said IPOB remains a terrorist group as declared by the Nigerian government and should be treated as such by the Western nations. He claimed that the group had been using funds raised in foreign countries to destabilise Nigeria.
“IPOB is a terrorist organisation so declared by the Nigeria government, yet some Western countries harbour them and have been dealing with the illegal body. They allow them to raise funds, some allow them to lobby their congressmen and lawmakers and whatever fund they realise they use it to destabilise the country.”
Recall that in 2017, a Federal High Court in Abuja declared IPOB a terrorist organisation after the Nigerian Army proscribed the activities of the group.
According to the 2023 Global Terrorism Index (GTI), IPOB ranked as the 10th deadliest terror group in the world. The report claimed that the group was responsible for 40 attacks and 57 deaths in 2022.
Meanwhile, IPOB has urged the Nigerian Army to rescue from Boko Haram insurgents Leah Sharibu and others abducted from their schools and tame the violent activities of herdsmen before talking about its volunteers. This was in reply to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, that it and Eastern Security Network (ESN) are threatening the nation’s integrity.
IPOB, in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, also urged Yahaya to justify his claim against IPOB and ESN by showing the world where he and his officers and soldiers have been able to defend and protect their territory.
The pro-Biafra group accused the army chief of Army Staff of playing to the gallery, adding that all Nigeria’s territorial borders with neighbouring countries are porous and the army could not safeguard and protect them.
“Instead, the Chief of Army Staff, his officers and soldiers are busy hunting for innocent IPOB and our forests-protecting ESN operatives, because IPOB is a peaceful movement seeking for inalienable right.”
OUTRAGE yesterday greeted the Federal Government’s accusation of treason against the presidential candidate of LP, Peter Obi, with Nigerians accusing the government of “overheating the polity with lies in an effort to retain power.”
They warned that nothing must happen to Obi and his running mate in the election, Datti Baba-Ahmed.
Igbo youths, under the auspices of Coalition of Southeast Youth Leaders (COSEYL), called for the arrest of Mohammed, saying his position was hate speech capable of “causing national and international observers’ crisis.” They wondered when going to court to challenge an election was akin to inciting violence.
COSEYL, in a statement by its President General, Goodluck Ibem, said it was “laughable that a man who is supposed to portray the good image of Nigeria outside the shores of the nation, is de-marketing his own country just for his own selfish political benefits and that of his political party.”
Another body, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), said the accusation of treason against Obi, Datti and their supporters would expose them to security agencies’ harassment, including attacks or threats to their privacies and properties, as well as their fundamental human rights to life, dignity of human person and personal liberty, such as unlawful arrest and detention without trial.
Board Chairman of the group, Emeka Umeagbalasi, stated that the implications of the statement and the travel to the United States by Mohammed at the expense of the country, was to tell the world how the Federal Government “coordinated the armada of fraud called the February 25 presidential poll.”
Also, Emeritus President General of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, described Mohammed’s position as “nothing but quixotic display of a narrow-minded and forgetful person.”
He added that “only a person suffering from myopia will descend to the level of equating going to court to challenge election results with treason.
“Myopia because the President of Nigeria, Buhari challenged the outcome of the 2003, 2007 and 2011 in the election tribunals the same way Obi and Atiku are doing now. Nobody accused Buhari of treason. Nobody threatened to arrest him and his followers. Mohammed should retrace his steps and apologise to the nation for de-marketing Nigeria,” he added.
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has warned the Federal Government and security agencies, particularly, the police and the Department of State Services (DSS) not to take side in the emerging post-election events in the country.
According to CNPP, the unfolding political scenario suggests government is taking sides with APC in recent post-election events, saying the Federal Government and its apparatus should not do the bidding of any political party if the country’s democracy must continue to transit from one administration to another without hitches.
In a statement by CNPP Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, the group observed: “Our democracy will be in total jeopardy if the government chooses to take sides or resorts to use draconian measures to muzzle opposition voices in favour of the ruling APC.
“In Lagos State, voters were openly threatened not to go out to vote, while some were wounded and others died. Till date, no arrest has been made.
“Making the matter even laughable was a statement credited to the Nigeria Police, where the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said anyone with evidence against the Chairman of the Lagos State Parks and Garages Association, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo, can file a case of attack against him.
“This is after he had openly threatened voters in Lagos and the videos of the threat, as well as the eventual attacks on voters by hoodlums, suspected to be APC supporters were flying here and there. But a video of a traditional ruler in Lagos was the bases for which both the police and DSS arrested Igbo traditional leader who threatened to invite the proscribed IPOB to protect their businesses in the state.”