NIGERIA: APC Defends Position on Boko Haram Proscription Order

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The verbal altercation between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and  a former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, yesterday continued with the opposition party insisting that Fani-Kayode did not only lied but distorted facts in his conclusions on the party’s comments concerning the proscription of Boko

Haram by the federal government. In a statement by APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party denied ever supporting Boko Haram,  saying it only cautioned the federal government against human rights abuses.

The party said Fani-Kayode’s emotional response to an earlier statement by the party failed to wash off the thick mud he splashed on himself when he repudiated everything he ever said he stood for and made himself available to be used to castigate the opposition on the altar of glaring exigency.

It said however, that in the true spirit of the party’s belief in dwelling on issues rather than pettiness, it had decided not to engage the former minister in brickbats but to simply set the records straight for the sake of posterity, thus exposing him for who he truly is.
The party described Fani-Kayode as a Janus-faced, brassy personality who stands for nothing and would fall for anything.

‘’On June 9, 2013, the ACN issued a statement in which it said in the opening paragraph that ‘the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has said the recent proscription order against Boko Haram and Ansaru, desirable as it may be in tackling the terrorist organisations, violates the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by stifling the press and tampering with the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.’

‘’Any person, especially one who supposedly had the benefit of sound education, who interprets this statement as a condemnation of the proscription itself is either acting out of deliberate mischief or has failed to take advantage of his good education, perhaps in a
desperation to escape justice at all cost.

‘’What the statement means is that in as much as the federal government may have done a desirable thing in proscribing the terrorist groups, a section of the proscription order violates the constitution by stifling the press and tampering with the fundamental human rights of Nigerians. ‘’We then went ahead to quote that offensive section of the Proscription Order as Section 5 (1), which prescribes a term of imprisonment of not less than 20 years ‘for any person who knowingly, in any manner, directly or indirectly, solicits or renders support for the commission of an act of terrorism or to a terrorist group’.

‘’We said ‘support, as defined by the order, includes ‘incitement to commit a terrorist act through the Internet, or any electronic means or through the use of printed materials or through the dissemination of terrorist information (emphasis ours).

“We said this section is in conflict with Chapter II Section 22 of the Nigeria constitution which says ‘The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media, shall at all times be free (emphasis ours) to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people’.

‘’We said by stifling the press, the order is abridging a part of the fundamental human rights guaranteed every citizen under Chapter Four of the Nigerian Constitution in Section 39 (1).

According to the opposition party, “in order not to be misunderstood or to have our stand distorted by mischief makers seeking to feather their own nest at the expense of the truth, we then said ‘’Against the background of insinuations in government circles, let us be clear that we do not condone the activities of these sects that have killed and maimed innocent Nigerians and turned a section of the country into a battle field.

The APC said it was therefore baffled that anyone would still take this statement to mean that it was against the proscription of Boko Haram.

The party said the Fani-Kayode’s attempt to back away from his earlier statement that Boko Haram is the armed wing of the APC will not excuse him from tendering whatever evidence he has to support his irresponsible, malicious and libellous claim in court.

‘’In line with his shifty and deceitful style, Fani-Kayode, in his rambling response, tried to tone down his earlier statement by saying ‘I believe strongly that the APC comprises of at least a handful of Boko Haram sympathisers and questionable individuals who have at various times expressed a certain degree of support for Boko Haram’.

‘’But our response to this toned-down version of what he said on television is that it is too late in the day for him to back away from his earlier statement, for which he must apologize or face a court action,’’ it said.

APC reminded Fani-Kayode, who prides himself as a man of good breeding, that there was no better indication of good breeding than for a man to have integrity and principles that cannot be mortgaged, even with the dangling of a dangerous carrot that could pervert the course of justice to his benefit.

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