The presidential campaign councils of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party have challenged the Department of State Services to get tough with plotters of the interim national government.
The councils, in separate interviews with The PUNCH on Wednesday in Abuja, said the push for the ING was unconstitutional, adding that the plotters should be arrested.
They spoke against the backdrop of a statement issued by the security agency that some people were plotting the ING.
The DSS had earlier on Wednesday raised the alarm over a plot by some Nigerians to thwart the May 29 inauguration of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The DSS, in a statement in Abuja by its Spokesman, Dr Peter Afunanya, alleged that those behind the plot planned to undermine civil rule and foist an interim government on the country.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had on March 1 declared Tinubu the winner of the February 25 presidential election.
The APC presidential candidate polled 8,794,726 votes to defeat the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who got 6,984,520 votes and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi that had 6,101,533 votes.
A day after the result was declared, Atiku and Obi at separate press conferences on March 2 rejected the outcome on the grounds that the election was rigged.
Also, a former Anambra State Governor Chukwuemeka Ezeife, stated that Tinubu would not be sworn in as President.
Speaking on Channels Television on March 23, the vice-presidential candidate of the LP, Datti Baba-Ahmed, said the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, must not swear in Tinubu on May 29.
Some protesters under the aegis of the Free Nigeria Movement on Tuesday last week, asked the President, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to annul the February 25 presidential election and set up an interim government.
But hundreds of pro-Tinubu protesters, under the aegis of ‘The Natives’, stormed the streets of Abuja on Monday, warning against the imposition of an ING.
However, in the statement it issued on Wednesday, the DSS said it had identified some key players in the plot for an ING.
It stated, “The service considers the plot, being pursued by these entrenched interests, as not only an aberration but a mischievous way to set aside the constitution and undermine civil rule as well as plunge the country into an avoidable crisis. The illegality is totally unacceptable in a democracy and to the peace-loving Nigerians.’’
The security agency alleged that the plot was taking place after the peaceful conduct of the elections in most parts of the country.
It added, “The planners, in their many meetings, have weighed various options, which include, among others, to sponsor endless violent mass protests in major cities to warrant a declaration of State of Emergency. Another is to obtain frivolous court injunctions to forestall the inauguration of new executive administrations and legislative houses at the federal and state levels.
“The DSS supports the President and Commander-in-Chief in his avowed commitment to a hitch-free handover and will assiduously work in this direction. It also supports the Presidential Transition Council and other related bodies in the states.’’
The DSS added that it would collaborate with PTC and other law enforcement agencies to ensure seamless inaugurations in May.
Consequently, the Service strongly warns those organising to thwart democracy in the country to retract from their devious schemes and orchestrations.
“Stakeholders, notably judicial authorities, media and the Civil Society, are enjoined to be watchful and cautious to avoid being used as instruments to subvert peace and stability of the nation.
“While its monitoring continues, the DSS will not hesitate to take decisive and necessary legal steps against these misguided elements to frustrate their obnoxious intentions,’’ it further warned.
Commenting on the plot, the Director of Strategic Communications for the APC PCC, Idris Mohammed, said the DSS should arrest the plotters.
Mohammed warned that the APC PCC would go all out to ensure nothing hinders a smooth swearing-in of Tinubu.
He said, “The APC PCC is aligned with the position of the DSS, which we believe is doing its job. If this statement is coming directly from the DSS itself, it means that it is not an empty allegation. In any case, we believe the security agencies are also there to deal with this kind of situation. That is why they are there. Their duty is to thwart any threat against the Nigerian nation. They should react to it and go the extra mile to pin down those also responsible.
“We are seeing a pattern which we believe the DSS is also seeing. Otherwise, you cannot as far as call for a coup d’etat and pretend to still believe in democracy.”
APC backs DSS
His position was shared by the Chief Spokesman for the PCC, Festus Keyamo, who noted the statement released by the DSS was not different from an earlier alarm that he raised on potential incitement and subversive plot of some interim government proponents last week.
“The DSS is the super spy of the nation and has a duty to do their work. As you can see, their statement confirmed the alarm I raised earlier about incitement and treasonable felony. This is just to confirm what the APC PCC brought to the notice of the public last week.
“Therefore, it is good that the DSS is even the one raising the alarm about the subversive activities of these people so that when they arrest anybody, no one should start screaming ‘persecution.’ These are people who are too young to know what we passed through at the hands of a military regime. They will see the very thing they think they are fighting against in a military regime. The constitution will be suspended. Fundamental human rights would be non-existent. These kids really don’t understand the gravity of what they are trying to do,” he stated.
Also, the PDP called on the DS to immediately pick up for questioning, the elements pushing for an ING.
The party, through its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Ibrahim Abdullahi, expressed worry that the security outfit had yet to arrest such persons for “treason” against the backdrop of the unconstitutionality of an interim government.
Speaking with The PUNCH, Abdullahi said, “They should immediately go after such persons because it is the right thing to do. What are they still waiting for? The interim national government is alien to our constitution and there is no basis for anybody no matter how highly placed to contemplate it.
“Elections have been successfully held both nationally and sub-nationally. Those that are being disputed are already before the courts. So why should anyone come up with this at this material time? The DSS owes Nigerians a duty to act and the time to do so now.
“They should be arrested for treason because that is what it is. Arresting those concerned will act as a deterrent to those with a negative and dangerous mindset for our country.”
But the Chief Spokesman for the Labour Party PCC, Yunusa Tanko, said Nigerians would not be intimidated by the threat of the DSS.
He wondered why it took the security agency this long to start taking proactive measures to prevent chaos when the entire country was seized by ballot snatchers and thugs at the just concluded general elections.
“If truth be told, the LP and Nigerians cannot be intimidated. When the DSS was supposed to have issued a caution, it didn’t do it. It failed to do it and that was what gave impetus to those who wanted to derail the democratic system and run away with it.
“Let me give you an example. When the LP members and supporters were being intimidated in Lagos and denied the right to vote, where was the DSS statement? Our members were maimed and also killed during the campaign period, and the DSS issued no warning. When people were being ethnically profiled at a particular point, where was the DSS? When ballot boxes and the mandate of the people were stolen, they were nowhere to be found.
He challenged the security agency to arrest people behind the plot if it had verifiable facts.
He asked, “Is it after all these heinous crimes have been committed against the people that the DSS is coming out to roar like a lion? It is either the DSS has been compromised or it is just not interested in defending the state. It is also bad enough that the people who make up the state are completely been ignored.
“For us, this particular statement from the security agency is more or less like a threat to the sovereignty of the people. But if it has verifiable facts and evidence as regards those who are planning to subvert the will of democracy, they should not hesitate to bring them out as quickly as possible. But not to intimidate the people when they are trying to fight for their rights,” he said.
Our correspondents gathered that besides the statement it issued, the security agency had put the interim government plotters under watch.
A top official of the DSS, who confided in The PUNCH, said the identified persons were not untouchable, adding that they could face a treasonable charge if arrested.
“The maximum offence such a person could be charged with is a treason felony.”, the source said.
Also a former director of the DSS, Mike Ejiofor said planning to install an interim government is a crime against the state.
He said, “That is a crime against the state. That is pure subversion. Such people might be prosecuted and sent to jail. But we do not have to wait for their prosecution, since they have been identified they should be monitored. The duty of the DSS is detention and prevention of crime against the state. It’s better for us to prevent it than allow it to happen.”
On his part, a retired DSS official and Security and Intelligence Consultant, Adams Abuh said,” That means they are planning to overthrow the government and that is treason felony. That is a serious crime. Their composition also matters. Whether they are made of politicians and military personnel or just politicians also determines the level of their punishment. I believe the DSS are still working on their intelligence and would unravel who they are.”