In what is clearly an attack on Nigerians’ Constitutionally guaranteed rights of association and freedom of movement, the Federal Government yesterday, 28th October 2013, illegally used the coercive arm of the state – the Nigeria police to storm and forcefully dislodge seven Nigerian governors as well as other citizens from the Sokoto Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja.
From a government that purports to obey the rule of law, the disruption of a peaceful meeting by the police is not only crude, condemnable and unwarranted, but is a reflection of government’s growing intolerance and an affront on the democratic rights of Nigerians.
Particularly disturbing and worthy of note is that if seven Nigerian governors, all of whom are constitutionally guaranteed immunity from prosecution can be manhandled in such a brutal manner, what would be the fate of ordinary citizens who seek to exercise their rights to freedom association?
It is evident that the federal government is unlawfully using the police for its illegal and nefarious activities for the purpose of intimidation aimed at imposing the Bamanga Tukur-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on other party members and Nigerians.
The Progressive Governors Forum finds it unacceptable that Nigeria Police has been reduced to partisan agents and attack dogs that only serve a part of a political party when the levels of insecurity in the country are so high. It is reckless to take partisan contest to levels of warfare as the federal government has done because this would only weaken the capacity of security operatives in responding to real security challenges.
At a time when every security outfit and resource should be devoted to securing the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians, that the Federal Government thinks it expedient to send the number of officers and the kind of equipment it did to harass its perceived political opponents takes governance to a new level of irresponsibility and rascality. Clearly, President Jonathan and his advisers have acted in complete violations of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended pursuant to some self-serving political interests.
The Progressive Governors Forum notes with concern, the role of other public officials in the persecution of perceived opposition figures like Senator Aisha Al-Hassan, whose events centre, A-Park Gardens in Abuja, which has been in operation for several years, being suddenly revoked by the FCTA and slated for demolition.
This is coming after the security details attached to Senators Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Danjuma Goje, former Governors of Kwara and Gombe states respectively, have been withdrawn, as were the security details attached Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers State who now operates without an ADC and a CSO.
The PGF hereby expresses solidarity with the G7 Governors who have every right to fear for their lives, as well as other Nigerians that have fallen victims of government misuse of the police to intimidate, harass and oppress them.
We urge all patriotic Nigerians to rise to the defense of their legitimate constitutional rights and invite the leadership of the National Assembly to direct the Federal Government to stop using security operatives to harass political opponents.
We also call on the National Assembly to direct the police to stop the ongoing regrettable and unconstitutional harassment of members of New PDP forthwith and to urgently intervene and halt the authoritarian actions of the Federal Government which amount to direct attacks on the little that are left of our democracy.