THE National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, has petitioned the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, urging her to stop the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration from descent to totalitarianism.
He said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has now become a tool of intimidation of the opposition in the hands of the government.
In a letter dated August 30, 2018, received at the UK High Commission in Abuja on September 3, 2018, he said while the PDP which he recalled was saddled with historic burden of restoring democracy, its tenets of good governance and rule of law, strengthened national cohesion and unity among citizens, while reversing over a decade-long economic decline and stagnation, the present administration has eroded the gains of the 16 years of the former ruling party.
In the petition addressed to the Prime Minister, Secondus on behalf of the PDP said: “Sadly, the unfettered freedom and respect for human dignity entrenched by our Party has been eroded in the last three years of the current administration.
An important institution like the EFCC, which was established by the PDP Government under President Obasanjo and graciously still supported by international friends of Nigeria, including the taxpayers of European Union, to professionally deal with the scourge of corruption, has now lost its essence and original intentions of the founders to become the Bunari administration’s tool for persecution of opposition members and perceived political opponents.
“The EFCC, under this administration, has metamorphosed into a draconian agency, showing scant regard [for the rule of law and respect for human rights. The commission has turned the process of investigation into a media event to embarrass and tarnish the image of key opposition figures and sub-national governments of the federation perceived to be averse to the whims and electoral interest of the ruling party.
“For instance, in flagrant disregard of the law, the EFCC suspended the operation of statutory bank accounts belonging to PDP-controlled State Governments of Akwa Ibom, Benue and Rivers.
“It might interest you to know that a clear reading of today’s political reality in our country shows a resolute desire by majority of Nigerians to vote out the Buhari administration in 2019, leading to the mass rallying on the platform of our party as the major opposition party; hence the desperate resort by government to muzzle and emasculate opposition in Nigeria ahead of the election.
This includes the use of the EFCC to harass and attempt to force aspirants, particularly Presidential aspirants out of the race and reduce their capacity to raise funds through unending investigations and harassment of (potential) donors.
“Contrary to the anti-corruption promises made to the Nigerian people, associates of the President and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), who have been accused and even indicted of corruption, are walking the streets free while opposition members are hounded.
“The EFCC has lost so much focus that when they are not chasing the President’s opponents; they are shaking down legitimate businessmen like a mafia group. The Acting Chairman of the EFCC, who has not been confirmed by the National Assembly (a requirement of the law), goes about wearing a pinup of the President’s re-election campaign as if he is a volunteer in the President’s campaign.
While the PDP is not against any genuine effort against corruption, we totally reject government underhand method of hiding under a phoney anti-corruption fight to unleash to attempt to decapitate the opposition ahead of the elections.”
The party boss observed that the recent outburst by President Muhammadu Buhari that he will jail more looters, created national outrage and concern about the role of the judiciary and respect of our the nation’s institutions.
He added: “Also, his recent declaration, at an event of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), that rule of law will take the second stage on issues involving the alleged threat to national security, raises fresh concern about this administration’s attitude and respect for constitutional rule.
“These revealing statements from the President provides context for the treasonable attack, by armed operatives of the secret police, on the National Assembly, blocking members of the opposition from gaining access to their offices.
It also explains the license behind the continued unlawful detention of Col. Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser against multiple court orders mandating his release as well as the documented cases of human right abuses, including arbitrary and extra-judicial executions, unlawful arrests and detentions, torture, impunity, restriction of free speech and press freedom as catalogued in the reports by the United States Department of States and other international agencies.
“At this critical moment in Nigeria’s political development, we cannot afford to revert to the impunity of governance that characterised our military past.
“We, therefore, enjoin you, Madam Prime Minister, to use your immense clout to impress on President Buhari and his administration to immediately retreat from the path of authoritarianism and embrace the ideals associated with a democracy.
“The President Buharl’s antecedents and current flirtation with dictatorship should not be allowed to reverse the gains of liberal democracy to which the PDP and the UK are committed.
“Your intervention, at this time, will help Nigeria and indeed Africa to avert a looming crisis that will divide Nigeria along its emerging fault lines.”