Mixed reactions have continued to trail the Presidency’s claim on alleged moves to remove President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Presidency had said that some disgruntled religious and past political leaders were working hard to “compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership” in the country.
The Presidency made the claim on Tuesday, hours after the defence headquarters cautioned military officers against supporting any move that will lead to a coup in the country.
The warning came after Sunday’s alarm by the Department of State Service (DSS) that some people were trying to undermine the sovereignty of Nigeria.
Opposition political parties, socio-cultural groups, lawyers, academics and regional groups have given their impression on the debate amid rising tension over insecurity in the country.
What the Presidency said
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, in a statement titled: ‘Our response to DSS alert, by presidency’, said the alleged plotters are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians round the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on President Buhari, thereby causing crisis in the country.
Adesina, who described such move as “illegal” and “treasonable”, said the Buhari administration would keep Nigeria together no matter whose ox was gored.
He said: “The agent provocateurs hope to achieve through artifice and sleight of hands, what they failed to do through the ballot box in the 2019 elections”, warning that such a plan would attract necessary consequences.
“The Department of State Services (DSS), on Sunday alerted on sinister moves by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the country.
“Championed by some disgruntled religious and past political leaders, the intention is to eventually throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership.
“Further unimpeachable evidence shows that these disruptive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians round the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the president, thus throwing the land into further turmoil,” he said.
Presidency’s claim diversionary – Afenifere
Acting Leader of the Pan-Yoruba sociocultural group, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, on Monday, described the Presidency’s allegation as “a diversion.”
In a chat with Daily Trust, Adebanjo said the claim was an attempt to arrest opposition politicians. He said if there was any evidence against anybody, the government should arrest them and prosecute them in line with the dictate of the law.
The Afenifere leader insisted that the tension and agitations across the country would continue unless President Buhari listened to the voice of reason by restructuring the country.
He said, “This allegation of some past leaders plotting to overthrow the president is a diversion. They just want to arrest opposition politicians.
“If there is evidence against anybody, they should go ahead and arrest them and prosecute them immediately if there is evidence.”
Nigerians tired of rhetoric – NEF
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on its part called on the Presidency to stop scaring Nigerians with the rhetoric of subversions and instead deal with the problem squarely if at all it exists.
The NEF, on Tuesday, told the Daily Trust that there was no point telling Nigerians that some unnamed citizens were plotting a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership in the country if the Presidency could not use the mechanism available to it to deal with the situation.
The Director, Publicity and Advocacy of the Forum, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, challenged the Presidency to mention the plotters it claimed were recruiting some leaders of ethnic groups and the alleged ethnic groups.
Baba-Ahmed said: “Subversion is a crime, sedition is a crime and treason is a crime. Why is the Presidency or DSS telling us that there are people who are involved in these activities? What do they want the public to do with the information? They are failing twice; first of all, they are failing to eliminate the ground which gives these kinds of elements if they do exist, the reason to do what they are doing and then they are failing in enforcing the law.”
Dr Baba-Ahmed added: “I can say we talk with other groups, we discuss national issues. That is our right; there is nothing illegal in that and I am sure other groups do the same thing. But when you throw this kind of blanket accusations that somebody that you haven’t told us, someone, that you are in opposition today with, you haven’t dealt with is engaging and recruiting sociocultural groups, you have to wonder are you just using words to scare citizens?”
We are against coup, says Ohanaeze
The Professor George Obiozor-led Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide, while reacting to the allegation made by the Presidency, said they were against coup.
The National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, who spoke in a brief telephone interview with our correspondent in Enugu restated that the organisation was also against the call for impeachment of Mr President.
He said: “We reject impeachment. We reject coup. It is like setting the country’s political clock backward. Coup is anathema.
“What Ohanaeze wants is a change of attitude and approach to leadership. Nigerians are tired of the killings by gunmen, which have become daily affairs in the country.”
Stop chasing shadows – PANDEF
The Pan- Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has cautioned the federal government to stop chasing shadows and address the prevailing insecurity in the country.
PANDEF’s National Publicity Secretary, Ken Robinson, said it was shocking the government would tag religious leaders and past political leaders as disgruntled.
“That is the least expected,” he said, and cautioned the Presidency to stop chasing shadows.
What we expect from President Muhammadu Buhari, at this time, is to rally all critical stakeholders from all sectors and sections of the country, to build national consensus, and fashion out collective and holistic ways to address the hybrid problems confronting the country.”
Military warns officers, politicians against coup
Earlier on Monday, the Defence Headquarters, through its Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, warned politicians and military personnel against contemplating any coup.
Nwachukwu, in a statement, said, “The military high command wishes to use this opportunity to warn misguided politicians who nurse the inordinate ambition to rule this country outside the ballot box to banish such thoughts as the military under the current leadership remain resolute in the defence of Nigeria’s democracy and its growth.
‘‘We also wish to remind all military personnel that it is treasonable to even contemplate this illegality. The full wrath of the law will be brought to bear on any personnel found to collude with people having such agenda,’’ the statement said.
PDP to Buhari: You’re haunted by your shadows
In its reaction, the PDP said that the Buhari’s administration had resorted to blackmail in the face of failure. In a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said rather than live up to the responsibilities of office by taking charge and securing the nation, the Presidency was busy engaging in frivolous allegations against Nigerians.
“Perhaps, the Presidency has forgotten that in 1983, Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari, as he was then known, led a military coup to truncate a democratically elected government thereby causing our nation a huge drawback on democratic governance.
“Also, in 2015, the APC, which was hurriedly formulated, made itself available as a vehicle of brigandage to disrupt our political process by beguiling Nigerians and taking power through violence, propaganda and falsehood.
“The PDP therefore counsels the Buhari Presidency and the APC to look inwards as all fingers toward any possible plots to upturn our democracy point to them.”
‘Presidency has slipped into panic mode’
Analysing the statement by the Presidency, an Associate Professor of Political Sociology, University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, said the Buhari administration appeared totally out of depth and confused.
Kari told Daily Trust that it is either the Buhari Presidency had slipped into the panic mode or the whole thing was aimed to pre-empt those who might be nursing the idea of bringing down the government.
“The level of public angst is unprecedented. Nigerians are generally outraged that armed non-state actors are having a field day killing, maiming and terrorising the citizenry almost unchallenged.
“On the other hand, the opposition and those who have never been beholden to the government have been latching on this to pile more pressure on the administration through endless fault-finding, criticisms and condemnations, some of which are delivered in tone and manner that can actually be unsettling and even downright treasonous.”
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dayo Akinlaja, said there was nothing unconstitutional in political leaders coming together to pass a vote of no confidence in any government.
“It is still part of the constitutionally sanctioned right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions,” he said.
He, however, cautioned that whatever conference that would be called by the so-called political leaders should be with the aim to deescalate rather than escalate the situation on ground.
Also reacting, Yusuf Buhari said the right to associate and to advance any opinion on the way we conduct the country’s affairs is guaranteed under the constitution.
“However, the group mandate and aspirations must not be in a way created to undermine state security or infringe on the rights of others. Chapter 4 of the constitution is pretty sacrosanct and inalienable, and therefore, must be respected,” he said.
Afe Babalola donates N50m to fund ‘emergency nat’l conference’
Legal luminary and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola, has announced a self-sponsored national conference tagged, ‘Summit of Hope’ to find urgent ways out of the current crisis facing Nigeria.
Babalola, SAN, also donated N50m to the said conference, which is to take place at his university in Ado Ekiti, anytime from now.
Chief Babalola spoke during the 10th Aare Afe Babalola Annual Public Lecture, organised by the Ado Ekiti branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
Daily Trust could not establish whether the announcement for the “summit of hope” by Babalola was just a coincidence or has something to do with the alarm raised by the presidency.
Babalola, however, explained that the intervention was to stop the country from drifting into imminent anarchy or resorting to another civil war.
He also donated the 700-Seater ABUAD Hall and the Five-Star ABUAD Inn to be used for the summit.
He said restructuring and forming a new constitution were key to turning things around for the better, if Nigerians so desired.
He listed a number of eminent Nigerians to be invited to the conference. These include all former presidents and all leading traditional rulers.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who was at the event hailed the decision of Babalola, describing the step as patriotic.
He said in his capacity as co-chairman of the National Council of Traditional in Nigeria, he will report the development to fellow monarchs to seek support since the conference was aimed at restoring normally to the polity.
By Muideen Olaniyi, Ismail Mudashir, Hamisu K. Matazu, John C. Azu, Idowu Isamotu, Haruna Ibrahim (Abuja), Lami Sadiq (Kaduna), Raphael Ogbonnaiye (Ado-Ekiti), Tony Adibe (Enugu), Abdullateef Aliyu (Lagos) & Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt)