Opposition is desperate; warn your supporters— Presidency. It’s PDP on PDP violence, says Buhari, absolves loyalists
ABUJA— PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, traded words with the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate, Major-General Muhammadu (rtd) over the burning of his campaign vehicles in Jos, Plateau State.
President Jonathan, who is running on the banner of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged Buhari to call his supporters to order on the grounds that suspected APC supporters burnt two of his campaign buses, saying that the action was a sign of desperation on the part of the opposition party.
However, the Buhari Campaign Organisation has distanced itself from the allegation, saying that the incident in Jos was passed as a PDP on PDP violence arising from the party’s rigged primaries.
In a statement, yesterday, in Abuja, Director of Media and Publicity of PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, warned General Buhari and the APC not to prepare the ground for the re-enactment of the post-election violence of 2011.
The statement read: “It is on record that General Buhari’s utterances since 2011 have fuelled violence especially the post-election violence in parts of the North which claimed the lives of many youth corps members who were deployed as ad-hoc staff for that year’s election.
“It is sad that up till now, General Buhari has refused to apologize to the Nigerian people for that barbaric and shameful incident or show any remorse for the actions of his supporters. He could not even bring himself to tender an apology to the families of those young corps members that were hacked to death and murdered in cold blood by his agents.
“As if that was not enough tragedy unleashed on the polity, General Buhari recently said that the ‘baboon and the dog would be soaked in blood if what happened in 2011 repeats itself in 2015.
“The Jos attack on the campaign buses of President Goodluck Jonathan would appear to be a pointer to what the opposition APC presidential candidate is planning before and after the February 14 presidential election.
“We, therefore, call on well-meaning Nigerians and members of the international community to speak forcefully against this development, which threatens our elections and democracy and which falls way below the standard of best international practices.”
Free, fair elections
Also in a separate statement, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, condemned the action, stressing however, that the incident would not deter the determination of the Federal Government to ensure free and fair elections in the country next month.
Alkali said: “We have observed a dangerous trend of politically motivated violence unleashed on innocent Nigerians by supporters of those who have shown desperation to assume political power at all costs.
“While we are not surprised by acts of desperation already shown by these people who have no articulate agenda for nation building, we are amazed at how quickly they are willing to manifest their evil intentions on our dear country.
“The incident in Jos, Plateau State where our campaign vehicles were torched by irate youth supporters of the APC, underscores the need for vigilance as we progress towards the General Elections. This criminal behaviour, which was meant to intimidate others and deny them their freedom of choice, stands condemned.
“The leaders whose utterances and conduct have encouraged this kind of behaviour must bear full responsibility for this. With the way things are going, it seems the ultimate agenda of making Nigeria ungovernable as prophesied by these politicians is underway.
“In carrying out this unpatriotic behaviour, they wish to first of all discredit the electoral process and set the stage for an orgy of violence once they fail in the elections.
“Nigerians are well aware of these antics and are fully prepared to protect their rights to freedom of choice.
“We condemn the acts of violence in Jos, Plateau State and also condemn the threats to violence in every other part of the country. This ugly trend must stop. We declare unequivocally that no Nigerian citizen should be prevented from campaigning in any part of the country. We, therefore, call on the law enforcement agencies to protect and guarantee the safety of every Nigerian legitimately canvassing for votes all over the country.
“We invite law enforcement agencies to note the pronouncements of desperate politicians who are bent on fanning the embers of hate and threaten the peaceful conduct of the 2015 elections.
“We once more wish to reiterate the commitment of President Jonathan to a peaceful and rancour-free electoral process. He has said times without number that his ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. We wish to sound a note of warning to politicians to desist from this vicious circle of lies, rumours, intimidation and violence.”
Don’t demonize opponents—Buhari
Reacting to the allegation, the Director, Media and Publicity of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, Mallam Garba Shehu, said in a statement that “the incident in Jos was passed as a PDP on PDP violence flowing from their rigged primaries. That is the earliest security report we got. Nobody should change that and use it to demonize opponents.”
He noted that “General Buhari was the first to condemn this incident the moment it was reported on Saturday. Check his Twitter handle. These were his words: ‘I have been informed of the burning of PDP campaign buses in Jos today. This is unacceptable! There is no excuse for this violence.’
“I am hoping that the police will immediately investigate, arrest and prosecute the culprits. Our democracy cannot tolerate violence in any form. PDP should leave us out of their Wahala.”