…Decries ‘selective’ fight against corruption
By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA-The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has written to the United Nations (UN), accusing the federal government of Nigeria of gross human rights violation and conducts threatening the nation’s democracy among other infractions.
In a petition entitled, ” Threat to Democracy, Rule of Law, Basic Freedoms, and Gross Human Rights Violation by the Federal Government of Nigeria,” addressed to UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterress, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Abuja yesterday, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus accused the President Muhammadu Buhari administration of frustrating political opposition, adding that since its assumption of office, the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration has been harassing and intimidating opposition figures in the country.
He also fingered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the security agencies of working in sync with government to perpetuate the APC-led government in office beyond 2019.
A part of the petition reads: “On the 9th of December 2017, I was elected the National Chairman of the PDP, by virtue of which I became the official leader of the opposition in Nigeria. Prior to this, in 2015, our party’s government led by President Goodluck Jonathan conducted a globally-acclaimed free and fair presidential election and for the first time in our nation’s history, superintended a peaceful, democratic transition of power from a party in government to an opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led by General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).
“Our expectations had been that this government would work to strengthen or at least, sustain the gains of this democratic milestone.
“The President Buhari-led APC government is doing all it can to frustrate legitimate opposition and to intimidate and persecute our leaders and ultimately destroy the fragile fabrics of our burgeoning democracy.
“Our nation has become heavily polarized along dangerous fault lines where citizens now live in fear and mutual suspicion; where citizens are slaughtered by the day by marauders; where hunger and strange diseases ravage the people due to the insensitive and incoherent policies of this government.
“I am constrained to bring to the attention of the United Nations what appears to be a predetermined and orchestrated plan by President Muhammadu Buhari and the federal government of Nigeria through various agencies including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigerian Police and other security organisations to truncate Nigeria’s democracy.
On alleged intimidation of opposition members, the party wrote: “Since assumption of office in 2015, the President and the federal government agencies have provided a blanket shield for its corrupt officials and for any member of the opposition who decamps to the ruling APC.
“Recently the federal government confirmed the persecution of opposition leaders in the guise of fighting corruption when it released a phantom list of alleged looters comprising only of persons who are members of the opposition PDP.
“Even persons who were facing criminal prosecution prior to the 2015 presidential elections who are now members of the ruling APC and other members of APC who are overtly known to be involved in known cases of corruption were excluded from the list whilst persons who have never been charged with any crime and who in fact have not held any previous government portfolio including myself were listed as ‘looters,’ adding that “All notable opposition leaders are being harassed or hounded by security operatives using all manners of frivolous and vexatious allegations.”
The party further drew the attention of the UN to what it called the intimidation of its supporters in “Edo, Rivers Kaduna, Kogi, Borno, Adamawa, Delta and other States for expressing a divergent political opinion, particularly on the exposed corruption, abuses and constitutional violations.”
Also of worry to the PDP is the security situation in the country, stressing that government has simply failed to tackle the menace headlong.
“On a daily basis, the nation is inundated with news of gruesome killings and unabating violence across the country, with Nigerians being hacked down or abducted by marauders and insurgents under the President Buhari government, which has failed to take decisive steps to stem the ugly tide.
“Despite persistent killings and wanton destruction of several communities, not even one person has been arrested or prosecuted by the federal government for these crimes against humanity.
“There have been several allegations of the military and police authorities refusing to act on early warning information to prevent attacks on several communities in Benue and Taraba states,” it stated.
Not left out in the petition is the head of the Nigerian Police, Ibrahim Idris whose stewardship the party chided and labelled unsatisfactory.
“The Inspector-General of Police willfully refused to deploy policemen to the affected areas in Benue state, mischievously categorizing the killings as fighting between herdsmen and farmers even when it was obvious that the farmers and residents of the sacked villages including women and children were unarmed.
“Such disposition is believed to be emboldening the marauders to continue their killing spree which is increasingly dividing our people and may further plunge the nation into turmoil as more people are slaughtered in the attacks in Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa and other states.
“The President openly admitted that the Inspector General of Police refused to obey a presidential directive to temporarily relocate the Police operational headquarters to Benue state in the wake of the killings in that state, but the President failed to sanction the Inspector-General of police and did not as much, issue a query to the erring police chief who continues in office.
On the 2019 general elections, Secondus said “Indication that the ruling APC does not intend to abide by the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria and the Electoral Act came to the fore in February 2018 when the National Executive Committee resolved to illegally extend the terms of the incumbent National Working Committee of the party to pave the way for the sole candidature of President Buhari contrary to the unambiguous provisions of section 223 of the Nigerian Constitution on the tenure of the national working committee of a political party, adding that “It has now emerged that the President and the ruling party are in collusion with INEC to manipulate the processes leading to and influence the outcome of the 2019 general elections.
“The plan by INEC to ask the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to help them monitor campaign funds is clearly an illegal and Machiavellian way of suppressing opposition’s financial contributions and spending. It is a plot to detain, frame up, intimidate and illegally block bank accounts of opposition members under the pretext that they have been mandated by INEC to monitor campaign funds.”
It further dismissed the war against graft noting that “The so-called War Against Corruption has transmuted into a coven of sleaze and graft of unprecedented dimension.
“Corruption is so condoned in official quarters that the Chairman of EFCC remains in office even after the Directorate of State Security (DSS) found him unfit for the office and the Nigerian Senate acting on that report rejected his nomination.
“Transparency International (TI) again vindicated our position that corruption is getting worse under this government. In its 2017 index, TI said that whereas Nigeria was ranked one hundred and thirty-six (136) in 2015, the country is now ranked one hundred and forty-eighty (148) out of one hundred and eighty (180) countries surveyed in 2017.”
“The activities of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government have been fraught with monumental financial malfeasance.
“There is also the puzzling case of a certain Abdulrasheed Maina, a mid-level civil servant, who was reinstated to service by the present government and promoted. The said Maina had been dismissed from service and declared wanted for theft of N2billion pension funds by the immediate past administration of PDP.
The ECA $496 billion controversy
“The federal government has been struggling to rationalize and legalise the unilateral withdrawal of USD1billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) purportedly for the fight against Boko Haram without the prior approval of the National Assembly which has the sole power to appropriate funds for federal expenditure.
“Just recently, the president unilaterally and unconstitutionally disbursed the sum of USD 496billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA), ostensibly for the purchase of Tucano fighter aircrafts from the United States without appropriation by the National Assembly,” the petition further noted.
Amnesty International Report
“Recently, Amnesty International issued its 2017/2018 report on Human Rights in Nigeria and found that there were gross human right abuses and violation of basic rights of freedom of association and expression by the Nigerian Government and its agencies.
“As if to corroborate the veracity of the Amnesty Report, the United States Department of State on Friday, 22nd of April released a damning report on human rights abuses in Nigeria stating clearly that violations continued to increase in 2017 while officials who perpetrated them were almost never prosecuted by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Having laid bare the facts, we respectfully invite the United Nations (UN), its agencies and the international community to note the developments in our land and stand in defense of democracy,” the party prayed.
Copied in the petition are the European Union (EU), American Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Gayer, among others.