Both parties have condemned the arrest of the former governor.
Two opposition parties, the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP have warned of massive protests if the newly formed opposition alliance, All Progressives Change, APC, is denied registration by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The ACN warned of demonstrations that will make Egypt’s 2011 revolution at the Tahir square, a child’s play.
The parties spoke in defence of former governor of Zamfara state, Ahmed Yerima, who was questioned by the police after warning of protests during a radio programme.
The police released Mr. Yerima, now a senator, after a brief interrogation.
The ACN, said Mr. Yerima’s arrest may signal an impending clamp down on the opposition by an “increasingly jittery” federal government.
In a statement issued in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, ACN said Mr. Yerima’s arrest by the police, for threatening protest on radio if INEC refuses to register APC, after it would have met all legal requirements, was nothing short of ‘budding fascism’.
“We will like to say, in support of Senator Yerima, that if INEC refuses to register the All Progressives Congress, APC, when all the legal requirements have been met, the protest in Tahrir Square in Egypt will be a child’s play compared to what we will do at the Eagle Square,” the party said.
PDP behind arrest
The ACN accused the ruling PDP of being behind the arrest because it is afraid of the rising profile of the yet-to-be registered APC.
“We say this because we are aware that the PDP, which is mortally afraid of the rise and rise of the APC, is behind the phantom African People’s Congress which has applied to INEC for registration, in an effort to instigate an acronym crisis and give INEC a reason, if it needs any, not to register the All Progressives Congress.
“But we will like to warn that if indeed INEC has not merged with the PDP, as one of our leaders, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has brilliantly said, then we do hope that the electoral body – which by the way is not unaware of the All Progressives Congress as the authentic APC – will not succumb to the evil machinations of the apprehensive PDP,” ACN said.
The ANPP also said the arrest was a sign of things to come ahead of elections in 2015.
“To start with, ours is a democracy wherein free speech is paramount; and Senator Yerima was exercising his rights without breaching public peace by any means,” the party said in a statement by its spokesperson, Emeka Eneukwu.
“Moreover, peaceful demonstration is also legal. If Senator Yerima expresses doubts about the sincerity of the ruling party in supporting democratic best practices, and calls for a future peaceful demonstration, it is only a government which has malicious agenda that would take offence at such opinion.”
“No intimidation can rattle us. And as a party, we shall not waver in playing the part history has reserved for us in the ranks of other like-minded progressives. We believe that Nigeria has all it takes to stand tall in the comity of nations,” the statement said.