”A democratically-elected President cannot and must not shut the democratic space against the opposition.”
The All Progressives Congress, APC, has raised an alarm over the ‘arrest and persistent harassment’ of its members in Bayelsa State by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP-led federal government.
The opposition party said the federal government is using the police as its arrowhead, in an attempt to clear the state of all the vestige of opposition ahead of the 2015 general elections.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Monday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said the plan being allegedly pursued by the presidency is aimed at ensuring that the opposition, especially the APC, does not gain a foothold in the home state of the President.
It said under the plan, leaders of the APC in Bayelsa, who have been building the party in the state, will be decimated through arrests, persistent harassment and ceaseless intimidation in order to scare away all the progressive forces that are keen and eager to align with the APC in the state.
”For those who may say this plan is far fetched, Mr. Samuel Ogbuku, the former Chief of Staff to Ex-Bayelsa Gov. Timipre Sylva, who is a key APC leader in the state, has been arrested in connection with a murder that took place in 2010. Curiously, Mr. Ogbuku, who has been resident in the state and who has no immunity from arrest, is just now being picked up by the police over a murder that took place over three years ago.
”Realizing that the suspect whom the police claimed mentioned Mr. Ogbuku’s name in connection with the murder has recanted, hence the murder charge can no longer be sustained, the police quickly dragged him to court on a charge related to cultism. The plan by the police, who arrested Mr. Ogbuku in commando style while returning from a funeral, had been to take him into custody along with Mr Sylva and one Israel Sunny-Goli, but the other two did not attend the funeral.
”A democratically-elected President cannot and must not shut the democratic space against the opposition, whether in his home state where he is expected to show leadership by example or anywhere else across the federation. We are therefore calling on the Presidency to stop the harassment and intimidation of our members in Bayelsa State,” APC said.
The party said the police in particular must not allow itself to be used to stifle democracy and deny Bayelsa citizens their constitutional rights to associate freely, warning that any further harassment, intimidation and threat to the lives of its members in Bayelsa will not be tolerated.
It called on all lovers of democracy and freedom to prevail on the presidency not to constrict the democratic space in Bayelsa State under any guise, especially in the run up to 2015 when the threats to APC members, especially the party’s leadership, are expected to be stepped up to send strong signals to everyone to steer clear of the party.
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