By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and Adamu Abuh, Abuja
(COMBO/FILES) This combination of file pictures created on June 10, 2022 shows
Nigeria’s ruling party (All Progressive Congress) presidential flagbearer, Bola Tinubu (L) delivering a speech after the party announces him as the winner of its presidential primary during APC special convention to elect the party’s presidential flag bearer for 2023 election at the Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria on June 8, 2022, and Nigerian former Vice President Atiku Abubakar (R) speaking during the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) primaries in Abuja, on May 28, 2022. – Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, just nominated candidates for the presidency of Nigeria, promise a bitter electoral campaign, attacking by statements interposed at a time when the most populous country in Africa faces immense challenges.
This election scheduled for February 2023 risks turning into a duel between north and south in a very polarized Nigeria, plagued by generalized insecurity and an economic crisis, analysts say. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon and PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)
Socio-political think-tank tasks INEC on credible elections
Thirty-Eight days to general elections, the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council (APC PCC) has restated its call for the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to quit the contest, even as the PDP, yesterday, demanded the arrest of the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
At a press conference in Abuja, the council said Atiku Abubakar must stand down over his role in an alleged infraction recently publicised by a whistleblower, Mr. Michael Achimugu.
Director, Public Affairs and Chief Spokesperson, Festus Keyamo (SAN), maintained that Atiku lacks moral latitude to occupy the exalted seat of the presidency, following his alleged role in the saga.
The council claimed that Atiku and his former principal, President Olusegun Obasanjo, breached the code of conduct for public officers, committed the offences of conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and money laundering over their role in a marine float account.
“The issue of the marine float account is not new to Nigerians. In the voice note, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar can be heard boasting that the issue of that account was thoroughly investigated by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yet, then, he was smart enough to escape.
“However, we note that in 2006, at the height of his public quarrel with Obasanjo over the sharing of money, the same PDP officially asked Atiku Abubakar to refund N500 million taken from that account.
“In the circumstance, since the nation now knows that the marine float account and other similar accounts were ‘SPV’ accounts, it follows that all payments made into that account were monies stolen from the public coffers. Therefore, we call on all security agencies to recover all monies withdrawn from that account by anyone for that matter.
“In the light of these very grave revelations, we call on Atiku Abubakar to immediately tender an unreserved apology to the Nigerian people and step down from the presidential race forthwith, while handing himself over to law enforcement agencies.”
Meanwhile, PDP declared that “the formation of a uniformed squad by the APC, code-named, ‘Jagaban Army’, is a treasonable act, consequently, the party called for the arrest and questioning of Tinubu.
In a statement by the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation, PDP claimed that the Jagaban Army, “set up to disrupt the 2023 general elections and raid polling units for votes on behalf of APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is a direct affront to the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies, as well as an assault on the sovereignty of our nation.”
Spokesman of the Atiku-Okowa campaign, Kola Ologbondiyan, who signed the statement, said: “It is reprehensible that Tinubu can create a rogue force just for the purposes of undermining the electoral and security arrangements of our nation.
“Our campaign holds that this nefarious act of the APC Tinubu/Shettima campaign lend credence to the position of the PDP and well-meaning Nigerians that Tinubu, as well as his rank and file, has set out to make our nation ungovernable and, thereafter, disrupt the 2023 presidential election scheduled for February 25, 2023 using his army of ‘Jagabandits’.”
According to the PDP, the notion of a Jagaban Army is a ploy to bring hoodlums, thugs and gangsters together, under the cover of the APC, and turn them into an official militia that will be used to unleash mayhem on the day of election.
The PDP campaign added: “This reckless anti-democratic plot by the ‘Jagabandits’ must also be condemned by all lovers of democracy in Nigeria and across the world over.
“We call on the security agencies to save the lives of Nigerians and protect our electoral process by immediately going after this dangerous formation, arrest those behind this design and save our nation from electoral violence.”
Also, in a second statement, later, yesterday, PDP dismissed as irresponsible “the attempt by the APC and its presidential candidate to divert public attention from the issues affecting Nigerians, by demanding that the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, withdraw from the race on account of simulated allegations by the APC.”
It added: “For clarity and for the interest of Nigerians, it is on record that Atiku Abubakar is one of the most investigated public officials in this country. It is also on record that in all the investigations undertaken over him and his affairs, Atiku Abubakar was never found culpable in any of the allegations.
“The APC presidential candidate has a litany of confirmed legal impediments on very grave issues, including those that border on international crime, namely: trafficking in narcotics and taking proceeds of narcotics.
“In the recent case revealed in the United States of America, it is on record that the APC presidential candidate forfeited the sum of $460,000, which was confirmed and found to be proceeds of trafficking in narcotics, an international crime for which Nigeria, being a signatory to international convention on trafficking in narcotic, is obliged to enforce.
“The effect of the conviction and forfeiture of the sum of $460,000 by Asiwaju Tinubu confirms that he is ineligible and not qualified to contest for the office of the president of Nigeria, as required by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”