…We Are an Impartial Observer, says EU Nigeria’s main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has threatened to pull out of the peace accord signed by the party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar ahead of the general elections. The party hinged its reasons on what it described as inflammatory comments, threats and incendiary actions
…We Are an Impartial Observer, says EU
Nigeria’s main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has threatened to pull out of the peace accord signed by the party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar ahead of the general elections.
The party hinged its reasons on what it described as inflammatory comments, threats and incendiary actions by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Buhari-led Presidency which, the party said, are directly inimical to a peaceful, free and fair election.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, was reacting to comments made by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai where he threatened foreigners who might interfere in Nigeria’s forthcoming general elections may leave in body bags.
His comments came about a week after the Nigerian government also accused foreign powers including the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union Election Observer Mission (EU EOM) of actions perceived as interference in its domestic affairs, and warned of consequences.
The three entities had condemned the suspension of Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen, warning that the decision by Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, could affect the credibility of the general elections, just weeks away.
Ologbondiyan expressed his party’s shock over the governor’s comments that members of the global democratic institutions who are working for a peaceful election in Nigeria will return to their countries in body bags. “What a threat?” he said.
He called on the international community to immediately impose a travel ban on El-Rufai for his inciting comments against peaceful elections in the country.
He also alluded to the redeployment of Mr Kayode Egbetokun, former chief security officer to APC National Leader, Mr Bola Tinubu, as Kwara state Commissioner of Police, where he has allegedly been “handed the instruction to incite the people, cause pandemonium and pave the way for outright rigging in favour of President Buhari and all other candidates on the platform of the APC.”
“This is in line with plans by the Buhari Presidency and the APC to effect a mass deployment of top security officers, particularly the police, to intimidate, harass and manhandle Nigerians that will not support the self-succession bid of President Muhammadu Buhari as well as aiding APC thugs to snatch ballot boxes and orchestrate violence in the elections.”
“Nigerians are aware of how CP Kayode Egbetokun was posted to Lagos state by the disgraced former Inspector General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, to serve the same partisan interest and how that posting was stopped by the new IGP, Adamu Mohammed. Now, he is being redeployed to Kwara state for the same ignoble plot.”
He said his party, PDP, is committed to the peace accord but, the deployment of the Kayode Egbetokun as Kwara CP “directly negates the principle of the Peace Accord and can only hurt the fragile peace that currently exists in Kwara state.”
“We wish to remind the acting Inspector General, Adamu Mohammed that his acceptability among Nigerians across party line was based on the pedigree, which was presented to Nigerians before his appointment.”
“These pedigree and exposure place on his shoulders, the responsibility to be just, firm, equitable and professional in the discharge of his duties. We, therefore, urge him not to allow his reputation to be mired in controversial political activities.”
The party called on the National Peace Committee to note the “infractions” by the APC and its leaders to the peace accord, including the provocative shut down of all the stadia in Kano state by the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, in order to frustrate the PDP Presidential campaign rallies in the state.
“We, therefore, call on the National Peace Committee to immediately summon El-Rufai on his inflammatory remarks against peaceful election in our country.”
“The PDP holds that any situation that seeks to allow the APC to abuse the tenets of the accord will definitely force our party to review our signatory to the peace process.”
“In that regard, we might have no option left than to allow our members to defend their votes with whatever that is available to them.”
“This country belongs to all of us and no individual or group, no matter how highly placed, can subjugate other citizens or seek to appropriate any sort of absolutism to themselves.”
Also in its response to El-Rufai, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) on Wednesday said its observers were invited for the February poll by the Federal Government.
It said its observers are always impartial and do not interfere in the electoral process.
It also clarified that its observers will continue their work across the country in the run-up to – and beyond – the 16 February elections.
The EU EOM, which made its position known in a statement in Abuja, said the “security of EU observers is of paramount importance and will remain under constant review.”
The statement said: “We are aware of the comments by the Governor of Kaduna about non-interference by foreigners during a talk show on the elections Tuesday 5 February.”
“The EU only deploys an election observation mission when it is invited to do so by the authorities of a country. The EU has been invited to observe all of the general elections in Nigeria since 1999. Thus this is the sixth time the EU is observing elections in Nigeria.”
“The Independent National Electoral Commission invited the EU to deploy an observation mission for the 2019 general elections.”
“EU election observation missions give commentary and analysis and make recommendations about the electoral process. EU election observation missions are impartial, do not interfere in the electoral process, and operate according to a strict code of conduct.”
Notwithstanding, the EU said its observers will continue to do their work while their security remains under constant review.
While the security of EU observers is of paramount importance, and will remain under constant review, EU observers will continue their work across the country in the run-up to – and beyond – the 16 February elections.
The statement added: “For the last month the mission’s team in Abuja, as well as 40 long-term observers across the country, have followed the elections.”
“We have met with a wide range of candidates, parties, election officials, security agencies, and civil society organizations, and have enjoyed good cooperation at federal and state levels. The mission looks at all aspects of the election, including the campaign tone, the transparency of the election administration, the neutrality of security forces, and the independence of the judiciary.“
Following massive reactions that greeted his statement, Kaduna State Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has clarified his comments, saying the reactions that followed his comments were false outrage, which he said must stop.
In a statement he issued through his media aide, Mr Samuel Aruwan, El-Rufai insisted that his comments were not a call for violence, but a powerful defense of Nigeria’s sovereignty.
The Governor said he merely stood up for Nigeria’s dignity in the wake of those who would traduce their country and reduce it to the status of a colony in their vain quest for power.
According to him, “A notorious trait of the characters that constitute the opposition in Nigeria is the manufacture of outrage on flimsy grounds. However, contriving anger on false premises and summoning a din of feverish commentary will not alter the facts. Election season is regarded as silly season in some quarters, but it is a very serious moment.”
“When Malam Nasir El-Rufai appeared on NTA’s Tuesday Night Live, he made comments every patriot can understand. He stood up for Nigeria’s dignity in the wake of those who would traduce their country and reduce it to the status of a colony in their vain quest for power.”
“The video of his comments is in circulation. Any fair-minded person with modest familiarity with the English language and unimpaired comprehension can understand it. It does not contain any call for violence. What it is a powerful defense of sovereignty? Are some sections of our political class implying that they will acquiesce in or collaborate with foreign intervention in our country?”
“Affirming that a country will defend itself against needless intervention is the kind of statement you expect to hear from a patriot. It is not a call for violence. Warning about the consequences of meddling in another country’s affairs is legitimate.”
“Non-interference in the affairs of other countries is a basic principle of international law. Threatening to intervene in another country implies the use of force. Those who are basing their electoral calculations on foreign intervention need to be discouraged. Only the lawful votes of the Nigerian people should make or unmake governments.”
“Malam Nasir El-Rufai has issued a powerful call for vigilance and a clear notice that other countries should not mistake the supine posture of the opposition for national weakness.”
“Malam Nasir El-Rufai has stood firmly against those who have been trying to divide Nigerians on ethnic and religious lines. He is resolutely opposed to violence, and firmly committed to peace and harmony.”
“Let the false outrage stop,” El-Rufai said