President Goodluck Jonathan vowed on Sunday to instigate treason charges against the opposition All Progressive Congress, APC, in a furious response to the party’s call for his impeachment, as he faces increasing criticisms over his stewardship and response to corruption.
The president vowed a firm response that includes slamming treason charges on members of the APC, and other Nigerians who might heed the party’s call to fiercely resist all acts of impunity of the current government.
The APC had earlier called on the National Assembly to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against Mr. Jonathan to save the nation from an imminent collapse, warning that henceforth, it would meet every act of impunity of the Jonathan administration with “stiff resistance”.
The party accused the government of preparing to compromise even the judiciary to have its way.
Citing the case of the five governors who defected from the PDP to the APC, the opposition party said the PDP challenged the move in court despite a previous Supreme Court ruling on such defection like the case of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.
The party said by pressing on with the case, the PDP was only bent on destroying Nigeria and vowed “widespread repercussions”.
“The APC has resolved that henceforth, every act of impunity of the PDP and the presidency will be met with stiff resistance in the form of a vociferous telegraphing of people power, the likes of which have not been witnessed in these parts,” the party said in a statement by its spokesperson, Lai Mohammed.
Mr. Jonathan called the warning an “undisguised threat” to foster “public insurrection” and vowed “consequences of treasonable action.”
“We urge Nigerians to take special note of this boastful indication of an intention to resort to lawlessness,” Mr. Jonathan’s spokesperson, Reuben Abati, said in a statement late Sunday, hours after the APC released its own statement.
“The presidency warns that the APC and any persons who make themselves its willing tools for the breach of public order and safety will be made to face the full sanctions of the law. Those who are threatening fire and brimstone should be ready for consequences of treasonable action,” the statement added.
The bitter exchanges, with the threat of force from both sides, came as a fresh dimension to a series of criticisms directed at Mr. Jonathan in a week that one of his predecessors, Olusegun Obasanjo, penned a scathing denunciation of his government as corrupt, inept and crass.
Mr. Obasanjo’s letter came a day after it became public that over N8 trillion crude oil proceeds had allegedly disappeared under the Jonathan administration. The government has yet to satisfactorily neutralize the allegation raised by the Central Bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, in a letter to President Jonathan.
In its statement, the APC said federal lawmakers owe the nation a duty to save Nigeria from collapsing under Mr. Jonathan as the president has failed in all indicators of performance.
”Our country is drifting dangerously and our people are divided now perhaps more than at any other point in our history, with the exception of the civil war period. There is a total failure of leadership, even as insecurity, unprecedented corruption, palpable impunity, massive unemployment and hunger stalk the land,” the party said.
Mr. Jonathan described the call for impeachment as “reckless and irresponsible” and dismissed the APC statement as “opportunistic, partisan and ill-motivated.”
“The APC, which remains a minority party with doubtful credentials in the National Assembly, knows fully well that its attempt to hector and blackmail a Parliament dominated by loyal members of the President’s party, the PDP, into an impeachment process, will come to nothing,” the statement said.
“But it has cavalierly embarked on this outrageous gambit, with scant regard for peace, order, security and political stability in the country, in furtherance of its dastardly and heinous strategy of over-heating the polity and working to cause public disaffection against the Jonathan Presidency with lies, false accusations and unjustifiable indictments ahead of the 2015 general elections.”
The statement said the APC failed to substantiate with facts, its call for impeachment beyond “self-serving rhetoric and falsehoods”.
“All that the APC could offer in justification of its absurd and hare-brained impeachment call was a rehash of its well-worn litany of baseless accusations against the President, including some for which culpability should be laid squarely at the doorsteps of its own leaders and some of their new friends,” the presidency said.
Separately, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, dismissed the APC’s call for impeachment action against Mr. Jonathan as “irresponsible, immature, self-seeking and part of their larger agenda to truncate democracy in Nigeria.”
“Upon their realization that they will not win in the 2015 general elections following the failure of their plans to break the ranks and strength of the PDP, they now seek to use all means to cause confusion in the land. The APC knows the implication of the call which is to cause massive turmoil and destroy the unity of our dear nation,” the party said in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Olisa Metuh.
Mr. Metuh said the PDP is “ready, willing and able” to stop the APC.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated with the paragraphs conveying the allegation by the APC that the PDP was trying to compromise judges to remove five governors who recently crossed to the opposition party.
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