By Ismaila Chafe
The Presidency has dismissed accusations on social media by presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, that some of his supporters, known as “Obidients”, have been “silently arrested” are without foundation or fact.
A source in the State House, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said both the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Department of State Services (DSS) have officially confirmed that no such arrests whatsoever had been effected.
According to the source, neither “silent arrests”, nor for that matter “open arrests” – have been made of any of Obi’s supporters.
The source said: ”The democratic process in Nigeria is free and fair and all candidates – whether those from the established parties or minor ones – have the absolute constitutional and God-given right to campaign openly and without hindrance.
”What is also the case is that anyone who breaks the law – whether they are a supporter of the government party or opposition – must be held to account for their actions.
“If, for instance, opposition parties’ supporters damage private property in the course of a campaign, march or rally, should they not be held to account if, for instance, governing party supporters defame an opposition figure should they not be held to account? Of course they all should.
“What is however known about a Labour Party member who was bailed by the party’s chairman in Lagos State is that on 30/09/22, one Joseph Chimezie ONUORAH, Passport No: A12553760, arrived Nigeria aboard Air France.
”He was intercepted about 22.30 hours at the E wing of MMIA Lagos by the Nigerian Immigration Service, at the instance of the Lagos State Police Investigation Bureau for an investigation that concerned him.”
According to the source, politicians from all sides of the political divide have a duty to maintain standards in public debate and refrain from making statements or accusations that could lead to the raising of tensions and make the prospect of aggressive physical behaviour more likely.
“Accusations that individuals have been “silently arrested” – and no one, frankly, knows what that description is supposed to mean – is an example of a statement made by a politician without any known foundation with the express intention of raising the temperature in this electoral contest.
”That cannot be good for democracy that thrives on facts and thinking, not on false statements and fiction,” the source said. (NAN)