Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the defunct Action Congress (AC), Atiku Abubakar has flayed government’s silence in the face of allegations that it plans to arrest certain members of the faction of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Abubakar Kawu Baraje for no justifiable reason.
In a statement issued by his media office in Abuja, the former Vice President said the PDP crisis is an internal family disagreement, which should not give anybody the right to arrest those who express dissenting views against certain activities in the party.
He said “criminalizing legitimate dissent over internal disagreements could lead Nigeria into a police state and thereby, defeat all the basic features of the democratic system,” stressing that people should not lose their freedom for expressing contrary opinion.
Atiku noted that the utterances of certain politicians and members of the PDP faction led by Bamanga Tukur were not good for the democratic image of the country.
The former Vice President said democracy and the rule of law frown at the idea of taking the liberty to threaten, harass or arrest those who express dissent with the PDP or any other party leadership.
He further stated that if disagreement is a criminal offence, then more than 90 percent of Nigerians would be arrested and taken to jail because according to him, majority of Nigerians don’t agree with the way the country is being run, but that is not an excuse to curtail their freedom to hold such opinion.
Atiku went on to cite the examples of other democracies such as the UK and the US where fellow party members disagree with their prime minister or the president and nobody threatens them with arrest for expressing dissent.
“Democracy goes beyond lip service”, he stressed.