The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, has rejected calls from some Nigerians demanding the sacking of the service chiefs.
Oshiomhoe also cautioned religious leaders against making remarks capable of igniting a crisis in the country, ahead of the 2019 general election.
The APC chairman spoke when a delegation from the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute met with members of the National Working Committee of the party in Abuja on Wednesday and raised the concerns expressed by some opposition parties that security agencies had joined forces with the ruling APC.
He said that since members of the ruling party had also come under close scrutiny by the security agencies, it was wrong to suggest that they were favoured while the opposition remained at the receiving end.
He said, “On the neutrality of security, I will be more at home if specific examples can be given that on a certain day, a security man did something against a member of the opposition. The perception is okay, but it may not be real. What is apparent may not be real. So, I am more at home when specific examples are given.
“I was a sitting governor and this is not a justification for copying bad manners. I was a sitting governor in Edo state and the PDP government stopped my flight because I was going for a political campaign against a PDP candidate. That was the extent to which they abused power, even though in law, I had immunity as a sitting governor.
“Three weeks ago, I denounced the police for conspiring with a sitting governor in Akwa Ibom state to interfere with the working of parliament because they were to remove, and did remove, a member of the APC who left the PDP, in spite of clear provisions of our laws and pronouncements by the Supreme Court.”
“It is absolutely untrue to suggest that the security forces have been on our side. This government is trying to change the assumption that it is either we win or the system will go under. The President has ordered that the security of a governor who cried out should be immediately restored. It is unfair to suggest that such a President is not ready for a free and fair election.”
Oshiomhole expressed concern about the multiparty system in Nigeria, saying that some political parties had begged him for money in exchange for supporting President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term ambition.
“I can tell you how many requests I have from these so-called political parties that if you pay me this, we will announce that we are supporting your presidential candidate. So people have formed political parties as a platform for trading. We must be careful so that in the name of freedom, we do not create democratic merchants, creating more confusion, generating more heat.”
While cautioning religious leaders, the former governor of Edo State said that some of them had been using the pulpit to say things that were completely untrue and elevated religion to a level that could complicate the Nigerian condition.
“The way religion is being used can undermine security and distort people’s view about candidates. And if people voted on the basis of religion rather than issues, and elections are won and lost, it can trigger a religious war, which will be a huge threat to peace and security.”
Oshiomhole urged the Independent National Electoral Commission to be cautious when accrediting election observers as many of them were political merchants.
“It has become a huge fraud that people apply to INEC for accreditation and then come to me as party chairman and say, I have this approval and I am ready to give you 100 slots. Pay me (money) so that I can give slots for you to allocate to your people who will pose as election monitors,” he added.
Earlier, the delegation led by a former Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the opposition had expressed growing doubt about the neutrality of security services in the election.
“A number of concerns were raised among other political parties that the playing field is not even and the ruling party has some advantages that they don’t have. That is normal when you are the ruling party, but they are appealing for an even playing field.
“We got a lot of concerns raised about the electoral commission and about how the poll is going to be conducted. We had a very good discussion with the electoral commission. We talked with the National Peace Committee and we were extraordinarily pleased by the peace accord that all the political parties signed.”