Wednesday, 27th September 2023

Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Arewa youths reject interim government plot

By Seye Olumide (Ibadan), Adamu Abuh (Abuja), Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos) and Nnamdi Akpa (Abakaliki)
04 April 2023   |   4:30 am
After one week of what could be referred to as dust storm, leading groups from the three geopolitical zones that form the major tripod on which the country stands – Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa – in strong statements, yesterday, joined voices in condemnation...

Arewa Youths

• Adebanjo: Ajayi remains suspended, has no right to issue statement for Afenifere
• Ndigbo not part of any conspiracy, plans to attend Tinubu’s swearing-in
• Decide presidential petitions before May 29, Agbakoba tells tribunal
• Natives stage peaceful march, vows to resist moves to truncate democratic rule

After one week of what could be referred to as dust storm, leading groups from the three geopolitical zones that form the major tripod on which the country stands – Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa – in strong statements, yesterday, joined voices in condemnation of an interim government, which abruptly crept into national discourse after the Department of State Services (DSS) disclosed that plots to truncate the current democratic dispensation were real.

DSS had, last Wednesday, said it had confirmed a plot by some key players to install an interim government and stop President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, from being inaugurated as president.

Embattled National Publicity Secretary of Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Mr. Jare Ajayi, yesterday, issued a statement purportedly on behalf of the group, saying, Afenifere has warned against any step that can jeopardise the handing over of the rein of power to elected officers, come May 29.

Ajayi, whom Afenifere had announced his suspension in a communiqué on March 28 for issuing unauthorised statements, in another statement, yesterday, said the group was prompted by reports of steps being taken that may be prejudicial to the swearing-in of winners of the just concluded general elections come May 29.

According to Ajayi, such steps included the attempts to rubbish the outcome of the elections, especially the presidential election, that held on February 25, resuscitation of the calls for the formation of an interim government and protests or rallies being conducted especially in Abuja and America against the result of the said election.

Ajayi added that Afenifere felt so concerned about the untoward development because of how it is gaining currency in the country and even outside the shores of the land.

He further reminded those fanning embers of non-inauguration of elected officers to be aware that the monster being courted would affect not only the Presidency to be headed by winner of the election, Tinubu.

“The disruption will affect all other tiers of government as well as governors at the state level, lawmakers at the national and state levels, and perhaps, the local councils.

“There is, therefore, the need to exercise a lot of caution. The laws of the land created avenues to seek redress when we are aggrieved. We enjoin those who may not be satisfied with the outcome of the concluded elections to seek redress through the established channels and not through any other means. It is also important to let members of the public realise that anything short of following due process, particularly, in the swearing-in of winners of the just concluded elections, constitutes grave dangers for the country. This must not be accepted or encouraged at all because of its dire consequences,” the group said.

Ajayi also called on the judiciary not to entertain cases that may be brought to derail the hard-earned civil rule, and thus, scuttle the nation’s democracy.

When contacted for clarification, leader of the group, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, said Ajayi has no authority to issue any statement on behalf of or for Afenifere. He reaffirmed the suspension of Ajayi, as contained in the communiqué issued in respect of that.

Adebanjo urged members of the public, especially the media, to discountenance any statement issued henceforth by Ajayi on behalf of and/or for the organisation.

IN same vein, the Chidi Ibeh-led faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, said that Ndigbo will not be part of any conspiracy for an interim government, rather plans are in top gear for them to attend the inauguration of Tinubu come May 29.

In a statement in Abakaliki, the Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, challenged DSS to apprehend those who are exponents of the interim government scheme and ensure that “those unpatriotic elements of destruction did not derail our democracy,” adding that their evil intent to forestall the smooth transition of power have hit the rock.

He maintained that Ndigbo not only condemn the call for the establishment of an interim government, but insists that the President-elect be sworn in by May 29, noting that Ndigbo has been endangered species in Nigeria and “never again will Igbos be used as sacrificial lambs as we were used in 1993 during the Abiola saga, where a lot of Igbos were bullied, maimed, killed and their property looted.”

The statement reads: “Ndigbo will never recognise any interim government or be part of the evil scheme, as the clamour for an interim government is unconstitutional, satanic and atrocious, and those behind the call are only trying to plunge the country into avoidable political crises and make the Igbos scapegoats as Nigerians witnessed in 1993.

“The proponents of an interim government are already setting the stage through systematic burning of Igbo populated markets in Lagos (President-elect’s state) and Borno (Vice President-elect’s state) and promotion of hate campaigns against the Igbo. These are castles built on quicksand.

“Igbos are wiser and sophisticated now and we will continue to support the President-elect and ask him to commence the healing process tour from the Southeast by releasing IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu and incorporate the Southeast into the Government of National President (GNU) by giving the President of the Senate to the people of the region.

“Ndigbo will participate fully in all pre-inauguration and swearing-in ceremonies of the President-elect on May 29 and caution all of those who are working behind the scenes for the enthronement of an illegitimate interim government to use the courts to vent their resentments and grievances.

“We are satisfied that Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi have explored the legal options to recover their mandates and challenging the outcomes of presidential election in court is better than restraining a smooth transition of power. We will not allow unpatriotic monsters to truncate our hard-earned democracy,” the group said.

ALSO, a Northern group, Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA), on Monday, strongly opposed calls for interim government in Nigeria. The group believes that such calls were not in the best interest of the country and could lead to further instability and political uncertainty.

The group, in a statement by its Speaker, Mohammed Salihu Danlami, argued that there was no need for such calls because the recently concluded elections were fair and credible.

To him, “as a youth organisation committed to the unity and progress of Nigeria, we are deeply concerned about the recent calls for an interim government to take over from the current administration. We believe that such a move would be unconstitutional and could set a dangerous precedent for our democracy.

“We are of the view that since the general elections were largely fair and credible due to the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and winners have emerged, there is nothing that should warrant calls for the formation of an Interim National Government (ING).

“We believe that supporting the transition programme of the present government while taking advantage of the courts to seek redress is the best way to ensure political stability and continuity in Nigeria.

“We also urge all stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue and work towards finding solutions to the challenges facing our nation because it is only by working together that we can build a strong, united, and prosperous Nigeria for all.

“AYA strongly opposes any move to enforce an interim government in Nigeria. We call on all Nigerians to support the current administration and Tinubu, and work towards a better future for our nation,” he said.

MEANWHILE, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, has said speedy dispensation of presidential election petitions is a strategy against having an interim government.

Reacting in a statement issued on Thursday, Agbakoba said the secret plans must be rejected by all Nigerians. Proffering a solution in a fresh statement, yesterday, the senior advocate said there would be no need for an interim government if the petitions are heard and disposed of before May 29.

“The tension around the call for an interim government is that the presidential election petition may not conclude before the inauguration of a new president on May 29, but it’s very possible to conclude these petitions, provided the court systems are very proactive.

“Under arbitration matters, procedural orders and or directions issue peremptorily to resolve sometimes very complex jurisdictional and procedural issues. The presidential election tribunals are urged to adapt the procedures very familiar with speedy conclusion of arbitration matters.”

Agbakoba listed three key issues in the presidential election petitions, which he said are resolvable by the application of procedural orders and or directions.

“The first is the interpretation of Section 134 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as to whether securing 25 per cent of votes in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, is compulsory to be a president.

“Secondly, is a candidate permitted to stand for presidential or vice presidential election when he is at the same time a senatorial candidate?

“The third point is the issue relating to the qualification of candidates to stand for presidential election.

“If the petitions were arbitration proceedings, an arbitrator may issue a procedural order directed to counsel to address all complex disputes and the arbitral tribunal will deliver what is called a partial final award,” Agbakoba said.

“In the case of the presidential election tribunal, including the Supreme Court, they can also direct procedural orders with very short timelines given to counsel, to address the complex jurisdictional issues raised in the petitions and the tribunal/supreme court will then issue final summary judgment as appropriate.

“We strongly believe that between the tribunal and Supreme Court, the petitions can be resolved within seven days from today. This will cool the temperature in Nigeria on the issue of interim government etc.

“The speed proposed here requires a radical departure from our present judicial policy where case management plays a very limited role in judicial outcomes. Case management is the spirit and driving force of modern adjudication. Speed of justice is the mantra that our judiciary must proclaim very loudly. This is needed in the presidential petition proceedings urgently,” he said in the statement.

The timeframe allowed by law for which an election petition must be heard and judgment delivered is 180 days from the date of the filing of the petition.

An appeal from a decision of an election tribunal or court must be heard and disposed of within 60 days from the date of the delivery of the judgment of the tribunal.

IN another development, a pro-democracy group under the aegis of The Natives, yesterday, staged a peaceful march in Abuja, vowing to resist subterranean plots by members of the opposition political parties to truncate democratic rule in the country.

Led by Mr. Smart Edwards, the group who took their protest to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), urged authorities in USA, Britain and other nations not to fall into the antics of members of the opposition political parties to promote insurrection in Nigeria.

Vowing to resist any form of intimidation and threat against democracy in Nigeria, the group reiterated their support for the declaration of Tinubu, as winner of the recently held presidential poll.

Edwards, who spoke to reporters at the end of the protest, cautioned politicians to stop inciting Nigerians against the citizens and the democratic process.

The Natives leader specifically cautioned the Vice Presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Yusuf Datti, against inflammatory statements.

“We want to particularly warn the LP vice president candidate, Yusuf Datti-Ahmed, to apply caution because Nigeria is a country and not Baze University.

“Some people have been going round the country inciting others, calling for a taboo, they are calling for ING that will never happen, not in Nigeria, not in any African country that we support.

“America is currently handling insurrection against her own state, so, we are certain that America, Britain and other nations will not promote insurrection in our nation.”

Responding, while receiving a letter addressed to the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Commission’s Director of Security, Lebari Sam Nduh, assured that INEC would continue to do its constitutional roles without bias or favour.

Nduh said: “We want to thank you for being very responsible in your protest. We want to thank you for bearing in mind that we have no other country to call our own than Nigeria. We want to thank you for the civil manner you have conducted yourself. We want to assure you, on behalf of the management of INEC, that your message will be delivered to the Chairman. It is not going to pass through any other source than the Director of Security himself who will personally take it and deliver it to the Chairman, who is my direct boss.

“I assure you that INEC will continue to do its optimum best in all that the law require it to do. Nigeria will be greater,” he said.