2023 election

…Says candidates have constitutional right to campaign freely without hindrance

Allegation made by politician without any known foundation

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

THE Presidency on Wednesday said there was no veracity on the allegation by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Mr. Peter Obi that some of his supporters under the umbrella of Obidient Movement were secretly arrested.

A presidency source, who was reacting to the alleged statement by Mr. Obi said under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari, the democratic process in Nigeria is free and fair and that all candidates whether those from the established parties or minor ones have the absolute constitutional and God-given right to campaign openly and without hindrance,.

The source who spoke on condition of anonymity said “Accusations made earlier Wednesday on social media by the presidential candidate, Peter Obi, that some of his supporters, known as “Obidients”, have been “silently arrested” are without foundation or fact. “

The source said both the Nigeria Police Force, NPF and the Department of State Services, DSS  have officially confirmed that no arrests whatsoever neither “silent arrests”, nor for that matter “open arrests” have been made of any of Mr. Obi’s supporters.

According to the source, “The democratic process in Nigeria is free and fair and all candidates – whether those from the established parties or minor ones – have the absolute constitutional and God-given right to campaign openly and without hindrance,” said the source.

“What is also the case is that anyone who breaks the law whether they are a supporter of the government party or opposition – must be held to account for their actions.

“If, for instance, opposition parties’ supporters damage private property in the course of a campaign, march or rally, should they not be held to account? For instance, governing party supporters defame an opposition figure should they not be held to account? Of course they all should.

“What is however known about a Labour Party member who was bailed by the party’s chairman in Lagos State is that on 30/09/22, one Joseph Chimezie ONUORAH Passport No: A12553760 who arrived Nigeria aboard Air France, was intercepted about 2230hrs at the E wing of MMIA Lagos by the Nigerian Immigration Service at the instance of the Lagos State Police Investigation Bureau for an investigation that concerned him.

“This also means that politicians from all sides of the political divide have a duty to maintain standards in public debate and refrain from making statements or accusations that could lead to the raising of tensions and make the prospect of aggressive physical behaviour more likely.

“Accusations that individuals have been “silently arrested” – and no one, frankly, knows what that description is supposed to mean is an example of a statement made by a politician without any known foundation with the express intention of raising the temperature in this electoral contest.

“That cannot be good for democracy that thrives on facts and thinking, not on false statements and fiction.”

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