By Gift Osaze
Atiku Abubakar, the Turaki of Adamawa, a former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the People Democratic Party, PDP, is not a happy man. Atiku’s source of unhappiness was the continued harassment of his key Campaign officials by the security agencies, which may be having a toll on the party Campaigns. The most harassed, according to sources are the members of the PDP/Atiku Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, as they no longer meet regularly as expected to plan for the election for fear of being arrested and detained by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Police or Department of State Security, DSS officials.
This is evident going by the arrest and detention of some members of the PDP/Atiku Presidential Campaign Council and harassment of several others by the EFCC, police and the DSS. One of such people was Senator Saidu Umar Kumo, the Director General , of the PDP/Atiku presidential Campaign Council in the north east geo-political region who may not have wanted to go through the harrowing experience of being in EFCC custody. Last September, the Senator was said to have been arraigned in Court by the Ibrahim Magu led EFCC on a five count charge bothering on ”Conspiracy and money laundering” which he found very disturbing.
Note that the said Kumo, who is an indigene of Gombe state, was a Chieftain of APC before he returned to the PDP last March and was subsequently appointed DG,PDP/ Atiku Presidential Campaign Council to oversee and Coordinate the Campaigns in the north east geo-political region.
Many believe that he may have dumped Atiku, his long time political ally, to force the anti-graft agency to drop the charges brought against him and give him air of freedom to participate fully in the electioneering Campaigns of President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling APC ,who is seeking re-election in the 2019 election.
The travails of Doyin Okupe, a former Adviser to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and Dino Melaye, a Senator and Spokesman of the PDP/ Atiku Presidential Campaign Council speaks volume. The duo were said to have been regular faces in EFFC and Force Headquarters, Abuja, respectively over the last one month on one allegation or the other as a way to weaken them to dump Atiku and join the APC.
Last Friday, January 12, 2019,Okupe , a Physician and Chieftain of the PDP had confirmed his arrest by the anti-graft agency . Recall that he has earlier been arrested and charged for Corruption , awaiting to be arraigned in Court on January 18, 2019.
An aggrieved Okupe fears that the agency may have concluded arrangement to take him to Court before the January 18, 2019, date given to his Lawyers without Consultation with them on the allegation of cybercrime.
Appearing on Channels Television recently, he confirmed that he was taken into EFCC custody when he was initially arrested and questioned over allegations of financial fraud and other activities during the Jonathan Administration. He was said to have spent several days in the anti-graft agency custody until his case was finally charged to Court.
Melaye’s travails may have been made worst because of his alleged involvement in booing the President in the presentation of the 2019 budget to the joint session of the National Assembly last December. Buhari may have been embarrassed at the action of the Lawmakers that he may have ordered the security agencies officials including the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, officials to watch over the lawmakers who are mostly PDP member to ensure that they would not travel outside the country without government permission. This may have given the EFCC, Police and DSS, the ammunition to go after the Kogi state born Senator, who had been on their wanted list since last year.
He knew he had entered into the President’s trap when he was arrested at the International wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport on his way to Morocco for official engagement. He was forced to tweet on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, ”I have just been arrested at the International wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Arport on my way to Morocco for an official engagement sponsored by the government after checking in”. The police, however, said the Lawmaker was arrested over alleged ”criminal Conspiracy and unlawful possession of prohibited firearms, kidnapping , robbery, murder political thuggery and other violent crimes in kogi”, his home state.
Acting on credible intelligence , Aremu Adeniran , a Superintendent of Police and Deputy Force Public Relations officer , had said in a Statement that the police operatives in Abuja, were able to arrest him because the Kogi state Police Command and the Federal Special Anti-robbery Squad had been on his trail since last year because of the Confessions of two suspects, Kabiru Saidu and Nuhu salisu to several kidnapping and armed robbery cases they were commissioned to do by him.
Given a further insight into his purported arrest ,the NIS had claimed that the Senator was only stopped from travelling on routine check at the airport on the way to Morocco but was released after interrogation. That was how far the NIS could go about it.
Given his involvement in the Atiku Presidential Campaign as the spokes person, the Police may have silence him with the arrest and detention. The Lawmaker who was taken to a police clinic over his poor health may have bowed to pressure from relatives who were worried over his failing health as he refused to be admitted to DSS better equipped Hospital for fear of being taken to an unknown location.
The DSS officials may not have been satisfied keeping him outside their own clinic as they mounted pressure on the sister agency,Police, to allow them transfer him to their own clinic since the DSS have no case with him. He may have been forcefully taken away to their own medical facility after he had disagreed with the police about his fitness to face trial.
Jimoh Moshood, a Deputy Commissioner of Police and Force Public Relations officer said the police was acting within the Law to keep the Lawmaker in their custody for two weeks which started last Wednesday, January 9, 2019.
The travails of Melaye in the hand of the DSS and Ibrahim Idris led Nigeria Police Force, NPF, may have forced Bukola Saraki , the Senate President and Chairman of the PDP/ Atiku Presidential Council to cry out to the whole world to hold Idris, the Inspector General of Police , IGP, responsible ” if anything untoward happens to members of my family and myself”.
Saraki revealed plans by the IGP to implicate him in some criminal charges, noting that some cultists from Kwara, his home state, have been arrested and were forced to confess that they were working for him. He cited the bank robbery incident at Offa town in the state noting that the investigation was politicised to implicate him.
The Senate President who disclosed that ”in the process of forcing the suspects to implicate him, the principal suspect died in their custody , thus making it difficult for him to succeed in his plot to rope him into robbery incident.
It was not therefore surprising why he insists ” I want the world to hold the IGP personally responsible if anything happens to me”. He described a situation where political thugs attack supporters of the opposition PDP and other parties with the support of security operatives as a signal of the dangers ahead. He was said to have been a victim in Kwara state. ”It does not present the country well in the comity of nations”, he said.
Only recently, the Senate President has alleged that the assumption by the Buhari Administration that the country consumes 50 million litres of fuel a day was a fraud. He had said that the government was spending $32 million on non -existing oil subsidy operators. The Kwara state born Senator said the Jonathan Administration subsidy was based on the assumption that the nation consumes 30 million litres of fuel daily.
He stressed that Buhari instead of changing the process, has succeeded in jerking up the importation by 20 million extra, noting that” it was just money been stolen”. The insider information may have unsettled the government as Festus Keyamo, a legal luminary a and Director, Buhari Presidential Campaign Council had accused the Senate President of having resorted to ”poorly choreographed and sworn-out political brinksmanship fueled by the obvious absence of any credible agenda to Nigerians in their Campaigns”.
Former President Jonathan may have predicted right what is happening to the Opposition PDP, when he said: I am the most abused and insulted President in the world but when I leave office , you will remember me for the total freedom you enjoyed under me”, he Melaye and Saraki may have remembered going by their ordeal in the hand of Buhari security agencies in the last two weeks.
Political watchers believe that the close marking of the trio of Saraki, Melaye and Okupe by the EFCC, Police and DSS, may be part of the grand plot by the government to weaken the PDP/ Atiku Presidential Campaign Council that they would not be able to bite for fear that these security gencies may go after them .
Uche Secondus, the PDP National Chairman, may have known from the onset that the APC government controlled security agencies would unleash their anger on them during this election period that he cautioned , ”if you meet every day with optimism to confront every obstacle with determination, the Presidential Campaign Council would surmount its challenges and ensure the victory of the party in the election.