Posted by By Bolade Omonijo, Deputy Political Editor & Emmanuel Aziken on
VICE PRESIDENT Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, in Lagos raised an alarm that his life was in danger on account of the refusal of the Federal Government to restore all his privileges including security aides as ordered by the Court of Appeal.
LAGOS—VICE PRESIDENT Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, in Lagos raised an alarm that his life was in danger on account of the refusal of the Federal Government to restore all his privileges including security aides as ordered by the Court of Appeal.
Alhaji Abubakar told newsmen at his official residence in Lagos that in the event of anything happening to him, the Federal Government should be held responsible.
In a separate statement, his campaign organisation said the alleged planned trial of its Director-General, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, by the Federal Government was a reflection of the do-or-die vow of President Olusegun Obasanjo to win the 2007 elections.
"Up till now, my security details have not been restored. Would you believe that I only have four SSS men? The police, they have only restored about half of them. All my official cars are still with them. All the cars I ride on my convoy including the one the police are using were bought by me," the vice president said.
He spoke against the background of alleged threat to his life as his campaign train moves today to Abeokuta in continuation of a tour of the South-West states.
He said despite last week’s attacks on the Ogun State secretariat of the Action Congress, he would still go on with his campaign. He said: "The attack or security threat would not deter me from going to Abeokuta. My security aides are with me. If anything happens to me they should be held responsible."
Alhaji Abubakar said he had no personal disagreement with the President and would consider the crisis that has torn the presidency apart as political misunderstanding. He said he did not see how the misunderstanding could be resolved in the nearest future, declaring that "we cannot see eye to eye politically."
On reports that the National Assembly might be planning to impeach him and the President, Alhaji Abubakar said it was unnecessary and an avoidable distraction in view of the fact that the tenure of the government would run out under 60 days.
He said the impeachment threat would make Nigeria a laughing stock in the international community.
He called attention to the fact that, given the tortuous process of impeachment in the Constitution, the National Assembly would need more than two months to go through the procedure, stressing that what is important to all Nigerians is to pray for a successful transition from one civilian administration to another.
"I think if we want the rest of the international community to regard us as serious nation, the issue of impeachment should be put aside. We are in a very crucial transition process. We have just about two months. To impeach a president or a governor could take months. I think we should rather work on how we could see how our transition process can be concluded successfully," he said.
The Vice President who also spoke on the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission pledged that he would propose an amendment to make the commission truly independent if elected President.
This, he said, would prevent the anti-graft body from being used to persecute political opponents by the incumbent President.
The Vice President explained that he was instrumental to the appointment of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as EFCC chairman, and actually approved the N300 million loan with which the commission started operation.
He dismissed all the allegations against him as baseless, and unconstitutional, saying as vice president, he was un-indictable, whether administrative, civil or criminal.
‘Ayu's trial reflective of do-or-die politics’
Meanwhile, the Atiku Campaign Organisation yesterday alleged that the planned trial of the VP's campaign manager, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu was a reflection of the do-or-die vow of President Olusegun Obasanjo to win the 2007 elections for his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Atiku campaign organisation in a statement said government had by the decision taken its campaign against the Vice-President to a ridiculous level noting what he described as the idiocy in the allegation that a former Senate President and Internal Affairs Minister was waging war against his country.
"It’s an insult to the National Assembly, which Ayu served at the highest level, and the Federal Executive Council, which again Ayu served with diligence and integrity, for anyone to slap a ridiculous charge, such as terrorism on this well-meaning gentleman. Only in Idi Amin’s Uganda can a thing like that be contemplated,’’ the campaign said in a statement yesterday.
"This current evil assault on a citizen’s fundamental rights, and the progressive desperate attempts to stop Atiku, in a ‘do-or-die’ fashion will also fail," the ACO said.
Dr. Ayu, according to charges prepared against him at an Abuja High Court, disbursed N1.5 million to Mr. Timi Franks, Director of Youths of the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation to perpetuate terrorist activities in the Niger Delta.
In its reaction, the campaign said the charge betrayed the level of desperation and panic the organisation and campaign successes of the Vice-President seemed to be reflecting on the government.
"The Presidency is clearly alarmed at the level of organization and the massive support from the people of Nigeria which Vice President Atiku Abubakar is enjoying in his zonal and state rallies. The trial of Dr. Ayu and Mr. Timi Franks is an attempt to arrest the momentum that the Atiku Campaign Organisation is building, and thereby emasculate the Vice President’s campaign.
"Dr. Iyorcha Ayu is a former number three citizen of Nigeria by virtue of his once-held position as Senate President of the Federal Republic. He has also headed the country’s Internal Security as a Minister of Internal Affairs.
"We are also amazed that with the billions of naira being wasted by the Federal Government to maintain peace in the Niger Delta, anyone could wake up and buy trouble in that region with N1.5 million, as is being alleged. The arrest and trial of Atiku Campaign Organisation directors and staff clearly shows what Nigeria would become if the current efforts of Atiku Abubakar to defend democracy is not encouraged and supported by all.
"The people of Nigeria cannot fail to note the real reason for government’s undue haste and constant cajoling of National Assembly members to pass the anti-terrorism bill before the 2007 election campaigns begin," the ACO said.