Government, PDP, CUPP squabble over alleged mayhem plot

HMIC Alh. Lai Mohammed addressing a Press Conference at the National Press Center, Radio House, Garki, Abuja.

The Federal Government yesterday claimed it was in possession of credible intelligence of a plot by members of the opposition political parties to unleash mayhem in 10 states with a view to truncating the forthcoming general elections.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who briefed reporters in Abuja, said the planned mayhem was aimed at triggering a constitutional crisis that could snowball into the establishment of an interim government in the country.

The minister, who declined to disclose the identities of the opposition parties behind the plot, said the Federal Government was taking measures to counter the plan, by those he termed “unpatriotic anarchists” to ensure the success of the elections.

Mohammed said the plot might not be unconnected with what he described as massive and warm reception that President Muhammadu Buhari has been receiving across the country, compared to the thinning crowds that have been attending the opposition rallies.

“Having realized that their fortunes have dwindled badly ahead of the polls, the desperate opposition is orchestrating widespread violence with a view to truncating the elections, thus triggering a constitutional crisis that could snowball into the establishment of an interim government.

“We have credible intelligence that armed bandits and Boko Haram insurgents have been mobilized to engage in massive attacks and other acts of violence in several states across the country, including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Benue, Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara.

“The Benue-based armed criminal group, led by Terwase Akwaza, also known as Gana, has been commissioned to strike soft targets in Benue, Nasarawa, and Taraba states.

In Kano State, a group of notorious miscreants have been mobilised by some prominent opposition leaders to provoke massive chaos before, during and after the elections.

There is also an international dimension to the evil plan. Some armed mercenaries from Niger Republic have been contracted to attack top government functionaries, including state governors, across the North-west between now and the elections,” he alleged.

The minister, who reiterated President Buhari-led administration’s commitment to credible, free, fair and peaceful elections, appealed to Nigerians to be vigilant in the days ahead.

He urged the media to help in sensitizing members of the public to the alleged threats.

But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) accused the Federal Government and the All Progressives Congress (APC) of plotting to frame up key opposition leaders ahead of the February 16 presidential election.

At separate press briefings in Abuja yesterday, the opposition parties said that government’s allegation that the opposition was sponsoring armed bandits to cause violence and disrupt the election was a smokescreen to arrest and keep opposition leaders in detention while the election holds.

At the PDP’s press briefing, its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Nigerians should hold President Buhari directly responsible for any escalation of violence in the country.

“It is imperative to state that the PDP finds the claims of Lai Mohammed irresponsible and ludicrous. It is just a measure for building the ground for framing up and arrest of leading members of the opposition as he has just confirmed our concerns,” he said.

The PDP claimed that the idea of truncating democracy in the country was actually that of some highly placed persons in the Federal Government.

“Severally, we have alerted the nation to the fact that the APC and the Buhari presidency, having come to the reality of their imminent and disgraceful loss at the polls, have embarked on a strategy to foment crisis in our dear nation and blame the opposition.

“The PDP, as known to all Nigerians and the world, is a party that preaches and functions by peace. We have conducted rallies in many states and geo-political zones without a record of violence. The APC cannot make a similar claim of a peaceful rally in its few attempts at interacting with its members and the public.”

The CUPP at its own press briefing presided over by its spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere, described as laughable and irresponsible claims that the opposition was sponsoring insurgency.

It said: “This accusation is outrageous and clear signs of mental disorientation. The presidency is plotting to frame up opposition leaders with fake allegations, using one of its vessels who is intellectually empty as he is.

“The opposition did not and will not engage in the act of supporting bandits or terror-related activities aimed at disrupting an election that we are destined to win landslide. The fear of defeat has now made the Buhari administration to be running from pillar to post and throwing baseless allegations with no facts to substantiate, all in a bid to frame up the opposition.”

The coalition boasted that its candidate, Atiku, would defeat Buhari in a free and fair election in February.

“Atiku will crack Buhari like cracker biscuits come February 16th and no amount of fake news or stupid accusation of sponsoring bandits can stop that. From Bank PHb allegation to sponsoring bandits, it’s obvious the government has run out of ideas and is suffering from mental disorientation.”

According to the opposition, “the APC’s recent rally of blood in Lagos State is a clear indication that they are the ones planning to disrupt the polls with violence, by wreaking mayhem on innocent citizens using bandits and Boko Haram.

“Buhari is a well known patron of Miyetti Allah and pro-bandit’s group while Lai Mohammed is their spokesman, they are the ones encouraging them.”

Meanwhile, President Buhari has pledged to continue to fight graft and Boko Haram insurgency to ensure security of life and property across the country.

He made the pledge yesterday while addressing members and stakeholders of the APC at his presidential campaign at Ramat Square, Maiduguri, Borno State.

He said the property forfeited by looters would be sold and the proceeds saved in the Treasury Single Account (TSA).

To him, the APC-led government, in the last three years, has fulfilled its three-point cardinal pledges.

He said the redeemed pledges include agricultural revolution, sustained investigation and apprehension of suspected corrupt government officials, and the fight against insurgency and other criminal activities across the country.

Buhari spoke yesterday on his anti-graft crusade as the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku, released names of 30 allegedly corrupt persons working with the president.

The list was published by Atiku’s Special Assistant on Public Communications, Phrank Shaibu on Sunday, January 20, 2019.

Atiku claimed that while most of those named are members of the PDP, others ran to the party to seek refuge from anti-graft bodies.

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