The All Progressives Congress on Sunday warned the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Nigeria Police not to stop its members from campaigning for the 2015 elections, should they decide to start now.
The party said the warning became necessary following what it said was the seeming go-ahead given to President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, to begin a nationwide campaign well ahead of time, in contravention of the Electoral Act, 2012 (as amended).
The opposition party’s position was articulated by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in Abuja.
He explained that APC had over the last few weeks drawn the attention of all government agencies as well as INEC, to the fact that President Jonathan had been in the forefront of those flouting the electoral body’s guidelines on election campaigns.
In apparent reference to Mr. Jonathan’s visits to Sokoto and Imo States respectively where he personally welcomed high profile defectors into the PDP, Mohammed said by going round the country to hold campaign rallies and making clear campaign promises, the president had damaged the moral authority of INEC or the police to enforce any law with respect to the elections.
He said, “I can assure you, we will demand equal treatment and since Mr. President can be allowed to go and campaign in Sokoto, to go and campaign in Owerri then we are sounding a notice to both INEC and Police that any attempt to deprive us of similar opportunities will be met with consequences.
“We have been trying to draw the attention of everybody it started with Bauchi, then Sokoto from Sokoto to Owerri and this is the President of Nigeria who is supposed to be an embodiment of the rule of law. In the interest of peace, fairness and equity, INEC should not disturb us whenever we also start our campaign”.
The party’s spokesperson explained that one did not need to be a rocket scientist to know that what the president was doing was campaign.
He said the party would not have been so disturbed if it were just PDP chieftains violating INEC regulations, but that it was alarming that it the president of the country, who swore to uphold the rule of law and the constitution, was “at the head of this kind of shenanigans then its spells doom for the country”.