Treason Statement: Obi, Datti risk charges, FG warns

The Federal Government on Tuesday said the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed,  risked being prosecuted for treason over some of their utterances on the February 25 presidential election.

The warning which was given by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in Washington, United States on Tuesday, said Obi and Baba-Ahmed’s statements amounted to insurrection.

He added that Obi and his running mate were instigating people to violence over the outcome of the poll.

However, the Labour Party candidate and the Peoples Democratic Party refuted the allegations, describing them as reckless.

The LP and the PDP  warned the FG against toying with the idea of apprehending the ex-governor of Anambra State.

Recall that, since Asiwaju Bola Tinubu the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, was declared the president-elect, having polled 8,794,726 votes to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and Obi, who got 6,984,520 and 6,101,533 votes, respectively, the LP candidate and his running mate have been faulting the electoral process.

Despite filing petitions challenging the election result at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, Obi and Baba-Ahmed have demanded total cancellation of the election which they claimed was characterized by rigging and violence.

Recently on an interview on national television, Baba-Ahmed asked the Chief Justice of Nigeria not to swear in the President-elect on May 29 while some of their supporters had called for the interim national government.

While addressing some media organizations and policy makers on the election at the US capital, the minister said it was wrong for Obi to seek redress in court over the outcome of the polls and in another breath incite people to violence.

Alleged threat

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, “Obi and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, cannot be threatening Nigerians that if the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, is sworn-in on May 29, it will be the end of democracy in Nigeria"

“This is treason. You cannot be inviting insurrection, and this is what they are doing. Obi’s statement is that of a desperate person, he is not the Democrat that he claimed to be. A democrat should not believe in democracy only when he wins the election.”

The minister said in challenging the election result, there was no pathway to victory for either Obi or Atiku.

According to the minister, both Obi and Atiku failed to meet the constitutional requirements to be declared as president.

“The constitution has stringent criteria for anybody who wants to be president of the country. Not only must he have the plurality of votes cast in an election, but he must also have scored one-quarter of the votes cast in at least 25 states.

“Only the president-elect met the criteria by scoring 8.79m votes and having one-quarter of all the votes cast in 29 states of the federation,” he further stated.

The minister said Atiku who came second with 6.9m votes was only able to make one-quarter of the votes cast in 21 states, adding that Obi came third with 6.1m votes but won only one-quarter of votes cast in 15 states.

“You cannot win an election in a poll where you came to a distant third position and failed to meet constitutional requirements.

“Peter Obi, while complaining of fraud, has not disowned his victory in Lagos,” he said.

Heightening his mission to the US,  the minister said he was there to correct the negative narratives being promoted by defeatists and opposition about the election.

He said the opposition, having lost in the election, was alleging fraud, calling for its cancellation and constitution of the interim government.

“We have come here to balance that skewed narratives and to tell the world unambiguously that the just concluded general elections in Nigeria are the fairest, most transparent, and authentic in the history of Nigeria.

“The election is the fairest and most credible because of the introduction of the Bimodal Voters Verification System, which I regard as a game-changer. BVAS technology had helped weed out ghost and illegal voters, eliminate multiple voting and return sanity to the elections,’’ he told his audience.

The minister defended the BVAS, which he said functioned 97 percent giving remarkable credibility to the elections.

In response to the minister’s remarks, Obi warned the FG to discontinue from making false allegations against him, stating that he had never sponsored or encouraged anybody to stoke the ember of insurrection in the country.

Mr Peter Obi, who tweeted via his official Twitter handle, said, “In the past few days, I have observed various campaigns of calumny directed at my person, with the latest being allegations attributed to the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, from Washington DC.

“It is most unfortunate that this consistent effort to portray me quite contrary to what I am, and my core values, is coming from such high quarters. Minister Lai accusing me of stoking insurrection is malicious and fictitious.

“I have never discussed or encouraged anyone to undermine the Nigerian state; I have never sponsored or preached any action against the Nigerian state. Those initiating these actions have increasingly used their official positions and agents to make false allegations against me.

“I am on record as always, advocating for peace and issue-based campaigns and never campaigned based on ethnicity or religion. I am committed to due process, and presently seeking redress in court.

“I urge those engaged in this demarketing process to stop presenting Nigeria in such a bad light. Our future generations deserve a new Nigeria, where they can live a secure and decent life like their counterparts in other climes. It is possible.”

Also in a statement in  Awka, the Anambra State capital, Obi described Muhammed’s trip to the US and the statement as reckless.

“Such reckless behaviour, sponsored with taxpayers’ money, was among the reasons those countries often do not take Nigeria seriously,” he said.

While urging Nigerians to always remain law-abiding, Obi stated “I’m on record, as always, advocating peace and issue-based campaign, not a campaign based on ethnicity or religion.”

According to the National Chairman of Labour Party, Julius Abure, said he was disappointed with the minister’s utterances.

While pointing out that only the LP candidate’s campaign was issues-based, Abure described him as a ‘peaceful and law-abiding person.’

According to him, the FG’s warning which should have been directed at the ruling party and their spokespersons was done in bad taste.

He said, “Let me state categorically that there is no basis for that admonition. Our presidential candidate is a peaceful and law-abiding person. Even though the election was provocatively rigged, he decided to be peaceful and to the part of justice.”

Also, the PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Ibrahim Abdullahi, warned the government not to toy with the temptation of apprehending the former Anambra State governor.

According to Abdullahi, arresting Obi “will be detrimental to national peace and development. That line of thought (possible arrest) is as senseless as it is ill-advised.”

On the contrary, the APC Director of Media, Bala Ibrahim, noted that the LP standard bearer could not be bigger than the law of the land, saying he should be cautioned by the security agencies over his provocative statements.

Ibrahim warned that if the United States, which is seen as the beacon of democracy could prosecute former president Donald Trump, “Why do people fear that Nigeria would burn if Obi is apprehended by security agencies?

He said, “I don’t subscribe to this idea of not touching certain persons simply because of the situation or the circumstances on the ground. Nobody is above the law.

“If you are wrong, you must be called to order regardless of your position in society. If it means getting the security agencies to invite him, it should be done.

“We shouldn’t allow things to get out of hand simply because we don’t want to be seen as intimidating the opposition. No, that should not be the case. As we talk, former American president, Donald Trump, is in court.”

Ibrahim, however, wondered why Obi and his flock of supporters were finding it hard to accept defeat when it was evident Tinubu won the contest.”

Speaking further, the APC publicity director noted, “People have been contesting and losing elections in this country, they didn’t call for fire and brimstone. Why should Obi’s case be different?’’

Further reactions from the New Nigeria People’s Party noted that Obi had the right to freedom of expression even as it challenged the Federal Government to charge him to court if they had sufficient evidence to support their allegation.




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