Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri
The All Progressives Congress, APC, has accused the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP-led federal government of engaging in a systematic harassment of members of the opposition party, while at the same time shielding accused Boko Haram sponsor, Ali Modu Sheriff, from the law.
The party was reacting to the detention and quizzing of a former governor of Gombe State and serving senator, Mohammed Danjuma Goje, by the Police for allegedly organizing a political campaign before the time allowed by the Electoral Act.
Goje was detained for over two hours for mustering a large number of followers in a campaign style, most of whom brandished dangerous weapons, according to the Police Public Relations Officer, Fwaje Atajiri, a deputy superintendent.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the national publicity secretary of the APC, Lai Mohammed, said the party condemned the harassment and intimidation of the senator, noting that he had alerted the police authorities in the state of his visit and was consequently provided with security.
Mohammed said in the course of the visit, the policemen attached to him were suddenly withdrawn while he was directed to cut short his engagements to answer a summon by the state Commissioner of Police.
“Shocked at the action, the Senator decided to conclude his visit, which included a meeting with his constituents, but the policemen stampeded him out of the venue,” the party claimed.
It alleged further that the senator’s “attempt to pay a condolence visit was thwarted by the police, who stopped his convoy at every turn, as he made his way from Deba to Gombe Town, just to embarrass him.”
Mohammed said further, ”When he finally arrived at Gombe Town, he went to see the Commissioner of Police, where he was kept for three hours in what amounted to an illegal detention. When the Commissioner of Police finally saw the Senator, he warned him to cut his convoy to only two vehicles, without explaining why he withdrew the Senator’s police security, why he detailed policemen to harass him or why he detained him for three hours.”
The APC also noted that while Goje was being “tormented”, another former governor and ex-senator, Ali Modu Sheriff, was landing in Maiduguri, where the federal authorities provided him with massive security, including four truck-loads of soldiers led by a lieutenant-colonel, about 50 SSS personnel, hordes of policemen and two armoured tanks to escort him from the airport to his residence, which was also secured by armed troops and policemen.
The APC questioned what qualified Sheriff, an alleged Boko Haram sponsor, for such a massive security while another former governor and a serving senator “was subjected to incredible indignity.”
“Why has the FG continued with its harassment and intimidation of opposition members, which played out massively during the Ekiti and Osun elections when many of them were arrested and detained without reason? Why has the FG continued to abuse national institutions in an unprecedented manner?” the party further queried.
In Gombe, briefing newsmen shortly after his release, Goje denied the allegation of holding a political rally, saying he was only consulting with his constituents to know their problems and to help solve them.
He said the discussions he had with the Police were fruitful as they were able to understand each other but called on law enforcement agencies to be fair to all political parties.
“The Nigerian constitution allows for the existence of different political parties,” Goje stated.