According to reports, parties are in a fix over call to halt campaigns over terror alert.
The Nation reports that political parties were in a fix yesterday over the call to put their campaigns on hold.
A former Foreign Affairs Minister, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, said the parties should suspend their campaigns for next year’s general elections, following security alerts issued to some expatriates in the country.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were in a quandary over the call.
But Labour Party (LP) said it would go ahead with its tomorrow’s rally in Lafia, Nassawa State.
The ruling APC said it would abide by whatever advice given by the nation’s security agencies. The PDP said its security committee was studying the security situation.
Akinyemi had predicated his call on the parties on the security alerts by the United States (U.S.) and the United Kingdom (UK) about the possibility of terror attacks on parts of Nigeria, especially the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The U.S. went a step further on Wednesday by asking its non-emergency staff members of its embassy and their families to exit Nigeria.
Also yesterday, the UK advised its citizens against travelling to Abuja.
Reacting to the alerts, the Federal Government said it will not be “stampeded”, adding that the security forces are on top of the matter.
Akinyemi, a professor of International Relations, who featured on Arise TV programme yesterday, said halting the campaigns would be in national interest.
Akinyemi said the parties must “balance rights with responsibility” and help security agencies focus solely on protecting Nigerians.
He said: “These are inconvenient times for Nigeria because it is election time and campaigns have started. All these one-million-man marches and the like are soft targets for terrorists”.
“We should stop talking about rights when there is an existential danger to the republic. The national security adviser, after getting clearance from the president, should read the riot act to these politicians.
“I am not interested in your rights to assemble if you are presenting a soft target to terrorists. The Americans have warned you about what is about to happen and you are insisting it is your right to have all these one-million-man marches and so on. It is the question of balancing rights with responsibility.
“There are not enough policemen to protect you. Do not create situations that further stretch the ability of the security forces. Help the security agencies to be forced on the situation of the nation.”
We shall abide by advice, says APC
Although, the APC claimed it has not started a full-blown campaign and rallies, it, however, expressed confidence in the assurances given by the nation’s security agencies to be on top of the situation.
APC National Publicity Secretary Felix Morka, in a telephone interview, said the party will be ready to comply with any advice by the country’s security agencies.
Morka said: “APC like any other institution is keenly monitoring the development. The security alert has been raised regarding possible terror attacks on Abuja and maybe elsewhere. As you know, APC is yet to roll out its timetable for its campaign. It is still in the works. What the party is doing is simply consulting with different sections of the party in different places around the country.
“We are not yet in that full-blown campaign mood. So there is nothing to suspend.
“Though the party will be cautious and vigilant and make sure that we carry out whatever engagement that needs to be conducted in close collaboration with the security agencies, by ensuring that we have complete control of any space we are carrying out any campaign. But for the campaign proper, we are yet to fully launch the itinerary of our movement. So there is nothing to suspend.”
PDP: We‘ll examine security report
The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation expressed concern over the terror alert.
Its spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan said the PDP/Atiku Campaign Council would refer the matter to its security committee for necessary advice.
Ologbondiyan, who spoke on the telephone, however said a definite decision on the matter would be taken when the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, returns from his U.S. trip.
He, however, did not say when Atiku will be back in the country.
Ologbondiyan said: “Our presidential candidate is currently in the U.S. engaging with Nigerians in the Diaspora on ways to rescue Nigeria from the tragedy imposed by the APC administration.
“Pending his arrival, the Security Committee of our Presidential Campaign Council will examine the situation and advise accordingly”.
No plan to suspend our rally, says LP
Spokesman for the Labour Party’s (LP’s) Presidential Campaign Council, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, said the party will hold its rally billed for tomorrow in Lafia, Nasarawa State.
Tanko urged security agencies to do their job in the light of the terror alert issued by the U.S. and the UK, arguing that the council, having mobilised both human and material resources to the venue of the campaign, cannot cancel the event.
He said: “We appreciate the position of the learned professor. Interestingly, we have also observed such but at the moment we have already deployed people on the ground with the hope that the security authorities will do their job to ensure security during our campaign that we will start on Saturday (tomorrow).
“At the moment there is no official statement for us to call off the campaign because we have mobilised material and human resources with the hope that security agencies will do their job.”
‘Suspending campaigns means surrendering to terrorists’
Elder statesman and National Chairman of the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Mr. Olawale Oshun disagreed with the call.
He said the most fundamental thing is for the Federal Government to take the security warning seriously.
Oshun said: “This is because they have had greater experience than us with regards to gathering intelligence reports. They’ve always had more effective technology in gathering security reports.
“So, the first thing is for the Federal Government to put in place elaborate pre-emptive measures because when you listen to the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, you want to believe that something is wrong somewhere in governance. This warning is coming because they have seen something that may have eluded us. So, we must take it seriously.
“The thing is that we have a system that can be very effective when we want it to be effective. Thus, we must take preventive measures, so that the prediction will not come true.
“But, I will not subscribe to the idea of suspending the ongoing electioneering campaign. This is for the simple reason that every nation must live by its own tenet. Once we suspend the campaign as a result of the security warning, it will affect practically everything, because it will also mean that there should be no schooling, no going to the market and so on. You cannot say people should not earn their livelihood.
Similarly, former National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Chekwas Okorie said it will amount to the country surrendering to the threats of terrorists if political parties suspend campaigns as a result of the security alert in the country.
Okorie said, however, that the federal government should be more proactive in handling the situation by collaborating with the countries that issued the alert to tackle the threat.
FCTA beefs up security with 60 operational vehicles
As part of its effort to secure lives and property in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has distributed 60 operational vehicles to security agencies in the Territory.
The security agencies include: police, armed forces, NSCDC and other paramilitary organisations, as well as Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA).
In addition to the vehicles, state of the art security equipment will be installed in the vehicles, which will be centrally controlled to ensure efficient performance.
Speaking at a brief handover ceremony yesterday, the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello said the intervention was to help improve the capacity of security agencies domiciled in the FCT, to optimally discharge their duties in the Territory.
IG reassures Abuja residents
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Usman Alkali Baba has reiterated the commitment of the Nigeria Police Force, in concert with other security agencies, to ensure the safety of all residents within the country.
The IGP charged all Strategic Police Managers in charge of Commands and tactical formations within the country to beef up security in their respective jurisdictions, especially in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The IGP similarly directed that all emergency numbers across the country should be activated to full capacity for a 24/7 prompt response with combatant officers and men on standby to respond in case of emergency situations and distress calls. Residents within the FCT are urged to remain vigilant and report any suspicious or abnormal occurrence and persons to the Police through the following emergency lines: 08032003913, 08061581938, 07057337653, and 08028940883.
According to a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the IGP allayed the fear of residents in the FCT and admonishes them to go about their lawful businesses and normal social lives/engagements as all hands are on deck to nip any security threat in the bud and respond to distress calls promptly.
The police boss similarly reiterates the commitment of the Nigeria Police to eliminating all threats, as well as protection of lives and property of all residents of the country.