Text Of Press Briefing By The National Publicity Secretary Of The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, Today, Sunday, July 5, 2015 At The PDP National Secretariat, Abuja.
Gentlemen of the press,
We have called you up this Sunday afternoon to address you and through you alert all Nigerians and indeed the international community of a grievous development that constitutes a major threat to our democracy and lives as individuals.
As we address you today, our democracy is facing a serious danger. We are at the verge of a quick slide into dictatorship and the personal freedom entrenched in the polity in the last 16 years by the PDP is about to be obliterated.
We wish to alert all Nigerians and the international community that there is indeed a clear and present danger of threat to the lives of key opposition leaders in Nigeria.
In the last few weeks, key PDP members have become an endangered group for playing their opposition role in providing constructive criticisms to the ruling party in their apparent lack of capacity to get organized and form a government; their interference in the activities of the National Assembly and the demand for the implementation of their campaign promises to Nigerians.
As we address you today, some key leaders of our party have been under threat since the emergence of the leadership of the National Assembly which did not go the way of the leadership of the APC, particularly, the election of PDP’s Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President.
The leadership of the PDP has been made aware of various threats to life and other forms of intimidation and blackmail against Senator Ekweremadu from the APC.
As you may know, the APC leaders have not hidden their bitterness and resentment towards Senator Ekweremadu whose offense is the privilege of being elected by his colleagues (APC and PDP senators alike) as Deputy Senate President in line with the Standing Rules of the Senate and the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Since President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that Senator Ekweremadu’s election was ‘unacceptable’ to his party, the Deputy Senate President, who can only be removed by the Senate has come under threats and intense pressure from APC leaders to resign and allow a senator from the ruling party to take his position.
However, having failed to get him to resign, the APC has now engaged in heinous plots to force him out of office, a design, which totally negates the independence of the legislature and the spirit and letters of the constitution of Nigeria.
Apparently to ensure that the agenda is given an official stamp, the Inspector General of Police, acting on instructions has invited the Deputy Senate President with a view to arresting him over phantom charges as a build up to incarcerate him, create a vacuum in the Senate and pave way for the imposition of APC preferred senator to take over his position.
“We are aware that some APC senators opposed to the emerge of Senators Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively met last week and concocted a petition accusing the Deputy Senate President of altering the Senate Rules on the process of election of the Presiding Officers, upon which the police via a letter dated July 1, 2015 and signed by the Deputy Inspector General in charge of criminal investigation at the Force Headquarters has invited him to appear tomorrow, Monday, July 6, 2015 where he will be detained and put under pressure.
Apart from the fact that the Nigerian Constitution clearly guarantees the two chambers of the National Assembly the powers to regulate their proceedings without external interferences, we note that the petition by this group of senators who enjoy the sympathy of some APC leaders lacks merit as Senator Ekweremadu or any other senator-elect prior to the inauguration of the Senate and the election of presiding officers, could not have been involved in the process of producing the 2015 Standing Rules of the Senate which was strictly done by the bureaucracy under the Clerk to the National Assembly.
Furthermore, Senator Ekweremadu was not in any way involved in the process other than being nominated for the position of the Deputy Senate President and could not have been privy to the secret ballot procedure adopted by the National Assembly bureaucracy, which has been widely adjudged as transparent and credible.
Also, apart from plans to use security apparatus against the Deputy Senate President, we have information that there are instructions to certain officials at the now National Electoral Commission to alter some electoral documents and records in order to create the impression that Senator Ekweremadu did not file proper documents for the general elections to eventually pave way for his removal.
In line with the above plot, the APC has been having secret meetings with some judges and lawyers to procure injunctions to prevent Senator Ekweremadu from playing his role as the Deputy Senate President.
We are also aware that part of the plot is a conspiracy to tarnish Senator Ekweremadu’s image and open him to public ridicule. Last Monday, some APC leaders met in Abuja to perfect a plot to blackmail the Deputy Senate President by planting outlandish publications against him in the media.
The PDP hereby states and in very clear terms too that the government and APC leaders should be held responsible should any harm come upon the Deputy Senate President or any of our party leaders for that matter. We state this because information available to us indicates that there are also plans to compromise security around the Deputy Senate President to make him vulnerable and open for sponsored violent attacks.
We do hope that the era of political assassination is not about to return to Nigeria and that our nation will not descent into a draconian regime where a strike force is created to hunt key opposition figures. In this wise, we call on our citizens to note that the PDP will not consider it a mere coincidence if our key leaders suddenly become victims of terror attacks or are suddenly killed by armed robbers. This is especially as we are aware that the APC has even gone to the ridiculous extent of trailing key PDP leaders and bugging their telephone lines.
This is in addition to hiring some disgruntled PDP members, to use the guise of an ethnic solidarity to create some disturbances, distractions and disruption of the smooth operations of our party. The APC is indeed in the process of elevating violence, ethnic and sectional interests once more in our democracy and we call on patriotic Nigerians across the country to resist this dangerous design.
We are aware that President Buhari, who had earlier restated his willingness to work with anybody elected by the legislature, has been put under intense pressure resulting in his statement on the emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu, which is now being misconstrued by some of his overzealous party members and security officials. We therefore urge the President to bear in mind that the onus therefore lies on him to moderate the political temperature of the country by calling his overbearing party members and security officials to order.
In Nigeria, the constitution empowers each chamber of the National Assembly to choose its leadership without external interferences. Senators in their wisdom and in exercise of that power, in line with the provisions of their Standing Rules chose Senators Saraki and Ekweremadu to lead them and the constitution is clear on the process for their removal from office.
The APC should not in any way take our civility, decency and commitment to national peace and stability for granted. They should rather be thankful to PDP senators, who in their maturity and discipline stuck to the decision of our party to support Senator Saraki and restrained themselves from using their majority status on the day of Senate inauguration to take over the positions of the Senate President and that of Deputy Senate President, while APC senators were busy attending their party meeting at the International Conference Center (ICC).
APC leaders must understand that no amount of threats, intimidation and blackmail will make the Deputy Senate President to abandon the mandate freely given to him by the Senate, or compel the PDP to abdicate its responsibility as an opposition party, a role we will continue to play with every sense of restrain, civility, maturity and patriotism.
On this note, we urge all our citizens, the civil society and indeed the international community to note the development in Nigeria; the onslaught against the opposition; the eroding of personal freedom, threats to lives, disruption of the legislative activities of the National Assembly, undermining of the independence of our electoral body and other dangerous signal that the nation may be on a slide to totalitarianism.
As a party that sustained and nurtured democracy in the last 16 years, the PDP cannot fold its hands and watch but will stand with all patriots in resisting this attempt to transform our country from a democratic state where the freedom of citizens to hold personal opinions and aspirations are guaranteed, to a nation where despotism, fear, clamp down on opposition and of course the media will be the order of the day.
Chief Olisa Metuh
National Publicity Secretary