For three consecutive days, helmet-wearing and battle-ready soldiers have kept surveillance at the Ikoyi home of Bola Tinubu, a leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, a statement from the politician’s media office claimed Tuesday.
Mr. Tinubu is also a former governor of Lagos State.
According to the statement issued by Sunday Dare, the Special Adviser on Media to Mr. Tinubu, soldiers numbering up to 30, riding in three patrol vans and army trucks, and stationed close to the entrance of Mr. Tinubu’s home, had become a permanent feature.
The statement said Mr. Tinubu was the target of the patrolling soldiers.
“The soldiers were first noticed on Sunday a few minutes to 11 p.m. in an army truck. They stationed about 500 meters away from Tinubu’s gate,” said the statement.
“Later they moved close to his gate as if making efforts to enter. The stern-looking soldiers were around for hours on Sunday and returned on Monday to continue their surveillance.
“Monday night about 10.45 p.m., they returned to the residence in two army vans and were there throughout the night. Some of the soldiers discharged from the van and walked back and forth in front of the house and around the house in what is clearly some casing effort.
“This morning, Tuesday, two vans from the army were stationed on both sides of the house along Bourdillon road their missions shrouded in secrecy.
There were no signs of security forces when PREMIUM TIMES visited Mr. Tinubu’s home Tuesday evening, save for an empty van belonging to the Rapid Response Squad, RRS, parked outside the compound.
An unarmed police officer sat at the gate, while the evening breeze rocked gently giant posters of Mr. Tinubu and that of his wife, Oluremi (who is seeking a second term at the Senate), stationed outside the fence.
PREMIUM TIMES kept watch outside Mr. Tinubu’s Bourdillon, Ikoyi, home between 5.00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. on Tuesday. A bus filled with what looked like party supporters was parked outside the gate.
A man seen outside Mr. Tinubu’s home however said he saw “just two army officers” earlier Tuesday and not a truck filled with soldiers. He said the two personnel later left.
At the road median outside Mr. Tinubu’s home, campaign posters of President Jonathan were hung on lamp holders. Vehicular traffic along Bourdillon Road flowed freely.
The statement quoted Mr. Tinubu as saying that he would not be intimidated by the show of strength and possible harassment.
“I remain resolute in my advocacy and support for the rule of law,” the statement quoted Mr. Tinubu as saying.
“Jonathan’s government has through the service chiefs staged a coup against Nigerians and the Constitution and now wants to silence his critics. I will not be muzzled through the barrel of the gun.
“The guns and bullets they should use to defeat Boko Haram are now being turned against the opposition and innocent Nigerians.”
The statement further said that Mr. Tinubu remains committed to the path of change and the “liberating manifesto” of the APC in the face of the “maladministration” of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Tinubu is credited to have played the most pivotal role in the re-building of the Nigerian opposition and the formation of the APC, Nigeria’s most formidable opposition party since independence,” the statement said.
“The exact mission of the soldiers is not known but it fits clearly into a new pattern of intimidation of leaders of the APC and the opposition. The recent massing of soldiers for 3 days now at Tinubu’s gate might be part of a broader plan by the Jonathan Presidency to intimidate Tinubu and his political associates and scare him from making provocative statements or building a broad coalition against the present government as he did during the NADECO days.
“As the scaremongering by the army continues, Nigerians must come to the realization that the military has abandoned its statutory role and have now (been) dragged into partisan politics.
“Nigerians and the South West should hold the Jonathan led Military responsible if any harm or danger comes to Tinubu and his family. The case of the ‘Unknown Soldier’ is too recent in our memory.”