The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has challenged the Department of State Services (DSS) to disclose the identities of those planning to instal an interim government. On Wednesday, the secret police, in a statement by its spokesman, Dr Peter Afunaya, said it had confirmed a plot by some key players to install an interim government and stop the president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu from being inaugurated on May 29. The DSS said the plot includes embarking on violent protests nationwide to engineer the declaration of a state of emergency as well as securing frivolous court injunctions to stall the inauguration. But Atiku, in a statement by his media aide, Timi Frank, alleged that the alarm of a plot to prevent Tinubu from being sworn in as president was a calculated move to arrest the PDP presidential candidate and Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and a clampdown on protesters before May 29.“The DSS’ purported intelligence is fake. It is a plot to crackdown on protesters and arrest opposition political leaders before May 29,” he said. “We have credible information that the DSS issued the statement in preparation for its planned disruption of ongoing protest by Nigerians who are demonstrating peacefully to demand justice and the restoration of their stolen mandate.” Where was their intelligence when the Independent National Electoral Commission and Mahmood Yakubu were compromised to rig the 2023 general election?” he asked. He contended “Nigerians have been under siege by bandits, kidnappers and terrorists for a long time now, but the DSS never gave intelligence to foil kidnapping, heinous attacks, maiming and killing of innocent Nigerians.“The only time you see the DSS coming up to talk about intelligence is whenever Nigerians are preparing to either protest against obnoxious government policies, rules, human rights abuses or carrying out lawful political activities.“The DSS must stop this method of intimidating Nigerians, especially politicians, whenever they want to exercise their constitutional rights. “We dare the DSS or any other security outfit in the country to arrest Atiku and Obi before May 29 and see the wrath of Nigerians.” He called on protesters not to be intimidated by “this DSS’ fake intelligence of a phantom ING plot.” He enjoined the UK, US and EU to immediately call on the Nigerian government to allow Nigerians to exercise their democratic rights which are to ensure that the stolen mandate of the Nigerian people is restored through peaceful protests and the judicial process. “We are aware that the DSS is planning to sponsor counter-protests across the country to clash with the peaceful protesters and use that as an excuse to clampdown on them.“ We dare the DSS to name those involved in the phantom plot if they genuinely have the ‘intelligence’ about a plot to instigate an ING so the world will know those who plan to stop the inauguration of the president.“ But we know they are not being sincere. This is often their style whenever they want to engage in propaganda and do a hatchet job. “On the contrary, let them name the purported politicians involved in the plot. Their real intent is to clamp down on protesters and arrest Atiku and Obi before May 29. Nothing more.“ We use this opportunity to call on the international community to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to call the DSS to order and stop them from meddling in the democratic process. “The DSS is the one that is about to scuttle democracy in the country at this moment by plotting to arrest Atiku and Obi and other top opposition politicians,” he said. He admonished the DSS not to allow the agency to be used to truncate democracy or as purveyors of fake news. He claimed that the DSS had recently attempted albeit unsuccessfully to arrest and prosecute the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele for allegedly financing terrorism in the country.“ They later pulled back following the outcry that trailed the move. This is another of such hoaxes and it is one too many,” he said.

Count us out

Reacting yesterday, LP denied plotting an insurrection. Yunusa Tanko, the spokesperson of the party, described the development as a “conspiracy against the state” in which the LP had no part. He, however, accused the DSS of not reacting to attacks on his party members during the elections but only speaking afterwards.“When we went on the streets to campaign and our members were maimed and attacked, where was the DSS? When our member was killed, where was the DSS? When MC Oluomo made inflammatory statements saying people of certain tribes should not come to vote in Lagos, nobody said anything. It alluded that the statement was a joke. He wasn’t invited by the DSS,” Tanko said. “Is it now that the Nigerian people are speaking to defend the sovereignty of the country that the DSS is making statements? “For us, we are following the due provisions of the federal republic of Nigeria. Protests are part of the democratic system. The DSS and the security agencies should come out and protect us even if we are on the streets protesting. “We are ready to follow the rules of engagement in our democratic setting. That is why we went to court. We are not making any inflammatory statements or mobilising anybody to come out on the streets to fight.“ We are not part of any insurrection plans whatsoever. But what I am saying is that we would protect the interest of Nigerian people based on the provisions of the law which provides that where you are hurting, you have the right to protest and that you would do so with the defence and protection of the Nigerian security apparatus. That is what we would do but we would not support any insurrection in any way.”

•Interim government unconstitutional

Meanwhile, Olisa Agbakoba, former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has said there is no provision for an interim government in the country’s constitution. The senior lawyer said “the gravest possible consequences must be applied” to those allegedly behind the plot. Reacting in a statement yesterday, Agbakoba said the “secret plans” must be rejected by all Nigerians. He said parties aggrieved by the presidential election should approach the courts for possible redress.“It is shocking to learn from the Department of State Security that secret plans are underway to undermine Nigeria’s democratic process and transition, by arrangements of what is described as an interim government. This will be a major setback and we must all resist.“I suggest that the gravest possible consequences must be applied to all who are associated with this treasonable intent. The general elections have been held, albeit under the most challenging circumstance. “But a president-elect has emerged and we must respect and accept this as fact. At least for now. All leading Presidential candidates have approached the courts with grounds of complaint concerning what they consider as electoral irregularities.“ If the presidential candidates have accepted the democratic process by lodging petitions before the courts, then it is very difficult to understand on what basis anyone considers an interim government a viable and legal alternative. We must all reject this nonsense and respect our Constitution, which has no provision for interim arrangements. “As the President-elect is sworn into office on May 29, the judicial process will ultimately render a decision. As Nigerians, we must turn to the Courts to render a decision on the petitions before them. The Judicial process will certainly carry a huge responsibility in the process of democratic consolidation.” Agbakoba added that the “contraption referred to as interim government has no place in our lives and our constitution.”

•Avoid treason

Presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Adewole Adebayo, also described the alleged call for an interim government as an act of treason and synonymous with joining a terrorist group. “Nigerians, especially youths, must avoid treason in promoting any so-called interim government, a high crime, on the same scale as joining Boko Haram, ISWAP or any terror group. All gains will be lost,” he wrote on Twitter.

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