Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar on Thursday asked law enforcement authorities to arrest the minister of information, Lai Mohammed.
Mr Abubakar said Mr Mohammed raised a false alarm about purported plots to sabotage the Buhari administration, an allegation that he had failed to provide any evidence to substantiate.
The opposition leader said Mr Mohammed should also apologise to him and his Peoples Democratic Party to deter a repeat of such unfounded claim that could damage national security.
“With the conclusion reached by PREMIUM TIMES’ investigative reporting that there is no evidentiary proof to back the claim by Lai Mohammed that the opposition was planning to upstage the government, we demand that the information minister should be arrested for raising false alarm and an apology rendered to Atiku Abubakar and the PDP,” Mr Abubakar said in a Thursday afternoon statement by his spokesperson, Paul Ibe.
The demand came two days after PREMIUM TIMES revealed that a document the government and security agencies had claimed were in circulation calling for the overthrow of Mr Buhari could not be found in the public domain. Multiple security and diplomatic sources also could not confirm ever seeing the document.
The elusive nature of the so-called document prompted allegations from both Mr Abubakar and civic groups that security agencies might be toeing the path of Sani Abacha, who led a brutal military junta that jailed dozens of opposition voices on allegations of a phantom coup plot in the 1990s.
After PREMIUM TIMES reported the wariness of national security experts about the purported documents and other allegations of subversion levelled against the opposition, Mr Mohammed quickly dismissed the skeptics, saying the government had ‘credible evidence’ to support its claim of opposition sabotage.
But when PREMIUM TIMES asked him for evidence of the purported coup document, Mr Mohammed declined comments repeatedly.
Mr Abubakar criticised Mr Buhari for not calling Mr Mohammed to order in his dangerous anti-opposition rhetoric.
“It is very unsettling that senior administration officials, especially those who are the mouthpiece of government, will make reckless but calculated comments to tarnish the image of Atiku Abubakar and government will sit idly on it,” he said.
The information minister did not return PREMIUM TIMES request for comments about Mr Abubakar’s demands on Thursday afternoon.
A budding smear
Although Mr Abubakar welcomed the PREMIUM TIMES report as the latest evidence of a vast conspiracy against him, he feared that more “more plans are afoot by unscrupulous and anti-democratic elements” to “smear his personality.”
The opposition leader, who has been contesting the outcome of the presidential elections at the tribunal, said he had been tipped off of plots by “some agents of evil to stage-manage pockets of upset” across the country and then blame it on him as the instigator.
Mr Abubakar said some purported arrests would be made in connection to the staged attacks and the ‘suspects’ would mention his name and some other PDP leaders as the masterminds.
“It, therefore, becomes preponderant that we alert the public of this demonic plan and to say that it will be imprudent to compromise the peace and security of Nigerians in order to score a cheap political goal,” Mr Abubakar said.
“Towards this end, and for the umpteenth time, we call on the federal government to be awake to its responsibilities of providing security and ensuring peace, and to desist from actions and utterances that are capable of exposing our fault lines,” he added.