The main opposition party in the country, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) has alleged that the ongoing trial of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, (CCT) over his alleged false assets declaration was part of the orchestrated plot to intimidate the National Assembly and perceived opponents of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The Federal Government had, on September 11, filed a 13-count charge against Saraki before the Tribunal.
But the erstwhile ruling party in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh claimed the trial of Senator Saraki was part of the “relentless onslaught against democratic institutions” and further declared that “the nation is on a quick slide into fascism and official terrorism.”
Metuh further noted that the President Buhari-led regime has exhibited trappings of despotism, including “ruling without a constitutional component of a cabinet, persistent abuse of power, undermining of democratic institutions, invasion of state government and personal houses, injecting confusion into the judiciary and hounding of individuals perceived to be against its interests.”
It further described as a mockery of reasoning, for President Buhari to condemn the recent coup in Burkina Faso whilst his government continues to violate the provisions of the constitution of his own country.
Metuh said: “Ordinarily, the intra-party squabbles within the APC, regarding leadership positions in the Senate is not necessarily our concern. “Also, we are not interested in whether Senate President Bukola Saraki ran for the APC presidential ticket against President Muhammadu Buhari; or whether he ran for the Senate presidency against the advice of the president and his party.
“Our concerns here are the prevailing executive intolerance, the undermining of the institution of the National Assembly and the overall threat to the survival of our democracy.
“Whereas the PDP totally supports the fight against corruption, while reposing confidence in the judiciary to protect and preserve its sanctity, we note with grave concern, the politically induced controversies within the judiciary, as a result of the part being played by agents of the executive, especially the question of due process with respect to the roles statutorily vested on the person of an Attorney-General, who is yet to be appointed, regarding proceedings in the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“We note this dangerous trend because the Presidency and the APC have not hidden their aversion to the election of Senators Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively, even as the fact of various moves to oust them from office, including the recent unsubstantiated allegations of forgery and harassments by the federal controlled security agencies are in the public domain.
“We call on Nigerians to be aware that the fixation on the leadership of the National Assembly is part of a major step towards the appropriation of the federal legislature, so as to undermine its statutory role of checks and balances and set the stage for dictatorship in the land.
“Part of this script is to commence a major onslaught against federal lawmakers perceived to hold divergent views to those of the Presidency, irrespective of party affiliations, a situation that would ensure a subdued legislature.”
It further accused the All Progressives Congress, (APC) led federal government of using the Department of State Services (DSS) to carry out what it called terrorism against democracy, in PDP controlled states.
“Also, similar machineries have been activated for possible forceful takeover of PDP states, a plot which played out in the recent act of terrorism against democracy, in the invasion of Akwa-Ibom State government house by the Department of State Services (DSS), under the direct instructions from the Presidency.
“We also recall July reprehensible invasion and sealing of Rivers local councils by the Police, who also barred members of caretaker committees that were duly appointed by the state government to take charge of the councils.
“The erosion of personal freedom of citizen also came to public glare in the invasion of the home of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki, against constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights and the rule of law.
“Furthermore, Nigerians are witness to the undue interferences of the Department of State Services in the activities of election tribunals in PDP controlled states of Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Delta, Abia, Taraba and others where electoral officers are being harassed, intimidated and detained, ostensibly to influence judgments against the PDP.
“We recall the show of intolerance in the venom and disparagement with which the APC-led administration in August, attacked our highly revered national leaders in the National Peace Committee, which has as members, former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, respected clerics; Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kuka, retired justices of superior records, as well as other highly respected patriotic Nigerians, for daring to counsel Buhari’s government on some observed undemocratic tendencies and processes.
“It is therefore a mockery of reasoning for President Buhari to use choice words to condemn the coup in Burkina Faso whilst his government
engages in brazen contravention of our own constitution, a development that is clearly derailing Nigeria from the path of order, democracy and constitutionalism.
“It is hence only appropriate that the President is called upon to focus on restoring proper democracy in Nigeria and end this drift towards dictatorship under the “new Sheriff’, an ominous undemocratic nomenclature introduced into our political space by the Presidency.
“We invite the international community and the civil society to note that our nation is facing a defining moment for the survival of democracy. Nigeria has come to a point where citizens, irrespective of political affiliations, can no longer freely express their views. We have fast descended from an environment of personal freedom and rule of law to an environment of muffled voices and suppression.
“Whereas we remain dedicated to our commitment in providing a robust and credible opposition, constructively offering alternatives to policies and programmes of the Federal Government, we restate in the strongest possible terms, that we shall not be cowed to abdicate our irrevocable resolution to defend our democracy, while resisting actions inimical to the stability and unity of our dear nation.”