The federal government has accused the opposition of planning violent attacks across states to disrupt the general election beginning 27 days from now.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made this accusation on Monday at a press conference in Abuja. He spoke a day after a former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, accused the government of planning to rig the elections.
Mr Mohammed said the government was in possession of intelligence to the effect that widespread violence being orchestrated by the opposition is threatening the elections.
He said the Boko Haram insurgents and some bandits have been armed by the opposition to undertake massive attacks in 10 northern states. He named the states as Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Benue, Kano, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Plateau, Taraba, and Zamfara.
Mr Mohammed said the opposition resorted to equipping the bandits to disrupt the election because they perceived they are no match for President Muhammadu Buhari. The president is seeking reelection on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said: “You have definitely seen the massive and warm reception that President Muhammadu Buhari has been receiving across the country, compared to the thin crowds that have been attending the opposition rallies.
“Having realised that their fortunes have dwindled badly ahead of the polls, the desperate opposition is orchestrating widespread violence with a view to truncating the elections, thus triggering a constitutional crisis that could snowball into the establishment of an interim government.
“The Benue-based armed criminal group, led by Terwase Akwaza, also known as Gana, has been commissioned to strike soft targets in Benue, Nasarawa, and the Taraba states.
“Also, a group of notorious miscreants has been mobilised by some prominent opposition leaders to provoke massive chaos before, during and after the elections in Kano state.
“There is also an international dimension to the evil plan. Some armed mercenaries from the Niger Republic have been contracted to attack top government functionaries, including state governors, across the North-west between now and the elections.”
He, however, did not state why the alleged sponsors of the violence have not been arrested or prosecuted.
He said the federal government was taking every possible measure to ensure the success of the elections and more importantly to counter the “evil plans by unpatriotic anarchists.
“The administration’s commitment to a credible, free, fair and peaceful election is unshaken. After all, according to the online encyclopedia – Wikipedia – elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century,” he said.
He appealed to Nigerians to be vigilant in the days ahead, and also urged the media to help in sensitising members of the public on the “observed threats, which are capable of disrupting the elections.”
He said: “The punchline of our long-running campaign on security – if you see something, say something – remains relevant, perhaps even more, at this time.”
The minister assured that all the relevant agencies under the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture will “work together to ensure that Nigerians are alerted to the dangers posed to the forthcoming elections by unscrupulous, unpatriotic and desperate characters who will not hesitate to destabilize the country if they cannot achieve their inordinate ambition”.