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The All Progressives Congress has insisted that a former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, not only lied but distorted facts to reach a prepossessed conclusion on the party’s comments concerning the proscription of Boko Haram by the Federal Government.
In a statement on Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said Fani-Kayode’s emotional response to an earlier statement by the party failed to wash off the thick mud he splashed on himself when he repudiated everything he ever said he stood for and made himself available to be used to castigate the opposition on the altar of glaring exigency.
The statement read in part: ”On June 9, 2013, the ACN issued a statement in which it said in the opening paragraph ‘The Action Congress of Nigeria has said that the recent proscription order against Boko Haram and Ansaru, desirable as it may be in tackling the terrorist organisations, violates the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by stifling the press and tampering with the fundamental human rights of Nigerians’.
”Any person, especially one who supposedly had the benefit of a sound education, who interprets this statement as a condemnation of the proscription itself is either acting out of deliberate mischief or has failed to take advantage of his good education, perhaps in a desperation to escape justice at all cost.
”What the statement means is that in as much as the FG may have done a desirable thing in proscribing the terrorist groups, a section of the proscription Order violates the constitution by stifling the press and tampering with the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
”We then went ahead to quote that offensive section of the Proscription Order as Section 5 (1), which prescribes a term of
imprisonment of not less than 20 years ‘for any person who knowingly, in any manner, directly or indirectly, solicits or
renders support for the commission of an act of terrorism or to a terrorist group’.
”We said ‘support, as defined by the Order, includes ‘incitement to commit a terrorist act through the Internet, or any electronic means or through the use of printed materials or through the dissemination of terrorist information. We said this section is in conflict with Chapter II Section 22 of the Nigeria constitution which says ‘The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media, shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people’.
”We said by stifling the press, the Order is abridging a part of the fundamental human rights guaranteed every citizen under Chapter Four of the Nigerian Constitution in Section 39 (1), which states thus: ‘Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference?, and warned that this section could be used against journalists and the opposition.”
It said, however, that in the true spirit of the party’s belief in dwelling on issues rather than pettiness, it had decided not to engage Fani-Kayode in brickbats but to simply set the record straight for the sake of posterity.
It quoted a Presidency statement as saying: ”For the avoidance of doubt, the Order is not meant to stop journalists from carrying out their duties or function of news gathering or reporting as they differ from terrorist activities. Rather, the Order is out to criminalize acts of incitement by anyone, group of persons or institutions to commit terrorist acts through dissemination of terrorist information’.”
It also quoted the PDP to have said, “For the avoidance of doubt, no section of the Order stifled the press; violated or seeks to violate any provision of the constitution. Instead the Order reinforced the provisions of the constitution guaranteeing the security and welfare of all Nigerians.”
The party said it was therefore baffling, that anyone would still take this statement to mean that APC was against the proscription of Boko Haram.
The party said Fani-Kayode’s attempt to back away from his earlier statement that Boko Haram was the armed wing of the APC will not excuse him from tendering whatever evidence he has to support his irresponsible, malicious and libellous claim in court.
It said, ”In line with his shifty and deceitful style, Fani-Kayode, in his rambling response, tried to tone down his earlier statement by saying ‘I believe strongly that the APC comprises of at least a handful of Boko Haram sympathisers and questionable individuals who have at various times expressed a certain degree of support for Boko Haram’.
”But our response to this toned-down version of what he said on television is that it is too late in the day for him to back away from his earlier statement, for which he must apologise or face a court action.”