Less than 24 hours to the date slated by the former Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, to declare his presidential bid, authorities have denied him access to Abuja’s Eagle Square, proposed venue of the event.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered the authorities have also denied the former governor access to the Old Parade Ground, another major public arena.
Mr Kwankwaso, who recently defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had announced Wednesday as the day for the event.
The announcement was contained in a statement from his presidential campaign committee on Sunday.
In a letter signed by Usman Raji, the facility manager of the Abuja International Conference Centre & Eagles Square, the government said the decision to deny him the Eagle Square was to avoid disruption of “work flow” at the Federal Secretariat, a major hub of civil servants.
The letter was referenced in a statement by the Kwankwaso Campaign Organisation sent to PREMIUM TIMES by PRNigeria, a news agency.
The detailed content of the letter, dated August 27, was published by The New Nigerian news media
“We are sorry to inform you that the event can no longer hold on the said date because it is a political event and the 29th of August, 2018 happens to be a work day, as it would disrupt the usual work flow of the Federal Secretariat.
“We apologise for the oversight on our part to note the date in relation to the nature of the event. We regret every inconvenience caused by this.” Mr Raji said in the letter.
When contacted, the Abuja minister, Mohammed Bello, through his spokesperson, Abubakar Sani, declined comment. He said questions should be referred to the management of Integrated Facility Management Services Ltd,who denied Mr Kwankwaso use of the venue.
In its statement, however, the Kwankwaso Campaign Organisation said it “sees the development as a handiwork of the government in power who will not see anything good in growing our fledgling democracy as no level playing field has been created to allow for viable opposition in the country.
“Even at that, earlier Tuesday morning the Abuja International Conference and Eagle Square, managed by the Integrated Facility Management Services Ltd refused us access to inspect the premises demanding us to present a police permit, when actual approval for the use of the Eagle Square has been sought and paid for more than one week to the said declaration.
“The above development will in no way dampen our morale to go ahead with the declaration or chicken-out as it will only embolden us to legally pursue our fundamental right to freedom of movement and association.”
It is not yet clear if Mr Kwankwaso will proceed with the declaration as scheduled despite the permit refusal.
The senator’s spokesperson, Binta Sipikin, could not be reached at the time of this report as her phone was switched off.