2019: The Travails of Atiku’s Men

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”.

Senator Dino Melaye: Under great pain

 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.

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