The presidency has condemned the burning of one of the campaign vehicles of President Goodluck Jonathan in Jos at the weekend by suspected supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Plateau State.
The Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Prof Rufai Ahmed Alkali, said in a statement in Abuja that the burning of the vehicles had further demonstrated the level of the desperation of the opposition and their plot to intimidate other Nigerians out of the political space.
He declared that the incident would not deter the determination of President Jonathan to ensure free and fair elections are conducted nationwide next month.
“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 incidence 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 is 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.
“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, and also condemn the threats to violence in every other part of the country.”
In the statement captioned: ‘This ugly trend must stop,’ Alkali reiterated that the federal government is determined to no Nigerian is prevented from campaigning in any part of the country.
“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 Nigeria.
“We therefore call on members of the PDP and supporters of the president to exercise restraint and show maturity even in the face of extreme provocations. We must show a difference in our conduct and prove to agent provocateurs that we have the temperament and composure to tolerate dissent without decent to mob action.
“Finally, we wish to sound a note of warning to politicians to desist from this vicious circle of lies, rumours, intimidation and violence.”
Also reacting to the arson, the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation has called on the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, to call his supporters to order and ensure a violence-free election.
The Director of Media and Publicity of the Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, warned Buhari and the APC not to prepare ground for the re-enactment of the post-election violence of 2011.
According to him, “It is on record that 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 members for that year’s election. It is sad that up till now Buhari has refused to apologise 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, Buhari recently said that the ‘baboon and the dog would be soaked in blood if what happened in 2011 repeat itself in 2015.’
“The Jos attack on the campaign buses of Jonathan would appear to be a pointer to what the opposition APC presidential candidate is planning before and after the February 14 presidential election.”
However, the Director of Publicity of the General Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential campaign organisation, Mallam Garba Shehu, has rejected any attempt to link Buhari with the attackers of the campaign vehicle bearing Jonathan’s poster.
Shehu said security report on the incident indicated that those involved in the clash were rival supporters of the PDP.
“The incident in Jos was passed as a “PDP on PDP violence” yesterday evening, flowing from their rigged primaries. That is the earliest security report we got.
“Nobody should change that and use it to demonise opponents.
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 problems,” he said.