Akin Akande, Abuja
All Progressives Congress (APC) governors under the aegis of Progressive Governors Forum and the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) on Monday condemned the harassment and intimidation of the G7 governors and the splinter Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) group led by Abubabar Baraje by security operatives during their meeting in Abuja on Sunday.
The Police on Sunday prevented a planned meeting of the faction at the Sokoto lodge, forcing members to make a last minute move to the Kano State governor’s lodge. Recently, the Federal Capital Territory Administration shut down the Adamawa lodge because ti was being used by the faction as a temporary secretariat.
While the APC governors described the attack as an attack on Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed rights of association and freedom of movement, the PDM described it as a political witch-hunting and shameless display of intolerance.
In a statement, the Progressive Governors Forum noted that on Sunday, the Federal Government 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.
“For 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,” the governors said.
The statement, jointly signed by the governors read in part: “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,” the opposition governors said.
The governors, however, noted that President Goodluck Jonathan and his advisers had acted in complete violations of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended pursuant to some self-serving political interests.
Similarly, PDM said that the attack “is tyranny of the highest order and a clear breach of citizens’ rights to freedom of association as ingrained in our country’s Constitution.”
The National Chairman of the Party, Mallam Bashir Yusuf Ibrahim, who spoke through his Media Advisor, Alaba Yusuf added: “It is inhuman, undemocratic and against all tenets of natural justice and therefore stand condemned.”
Ibrahim, however, compared the marking for demolition of houses and businesses of opposition politicians, especially in Abuja, to killing a fly with a sledgehammer.