By Bayode Sipasi
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday accused the Kwara state Police Command of arresting Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, its Kwara South senatorial candidate, ahead of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly election.
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) in the state also Friday condemned the arrest of Senator Ibrahim describing it as unlawful.
Senator Ibrahim was said to have been arrested on Thursday in connection with this week Tuesday’s violence in Ojoku, Oyun local government area of the state. Suspected thugs loyal to Senator Ibrahim on Tuesday this week allegedly attacked the campaign train of Lola Ashiru, the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara south senatorial district in Ojoku, the country home of Senator Ibrahim.
Two APC members were shot dead, eight injured and about 20 vehicles belonging to Ashiru were allegedly vandalised in the attack.
Kola Shittu, the PDP chairman in the state, said that six of PDP members sustained injuries from gunshots during the attack. He said Senator Ibrahim had denied any involvement in the mayhem.
CNPP said Ibrahim’s arrest and detention by the police since Thursday confirmed its earlier position that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government in connivance with security agencies planned a clampdown on opposition leaders in the state.
Adebayo Lawal, CNPP chairman, said that the Ibrahim’s arrest was part of plot to scuttle the electoral process in Kwara state and subvert the will of the people.
He urged the international community to intervene and not only ensure the release of Senator Ibrahim, but guide against unlawful arrest of opposition figures in the state.
He said that in the past few days, more than 20 members of different opposition parties in the State have been indiscriminately arrested by security agencies and taken to unknown destinations, in manner reminiscence of what took place during last year’s bye-election in Irepodun/Oke-Ero/Isin/Ekiti Federal Constituency, where top members of the PDP and opposition parties were unlawfully arrested on the eve of the election.
“We have received information that the high hierarchy of the Police has ordered that Senator Rafiu Ibrahim must not be released, which is a deliberate ploy to keep him out of circulation before and during the elections. This is unacceptable, unlawful, and undemocratic and a primitive show of power by a party that is well-known for abuse of power, federal institutions and flouting of court orders with impunity. The desperation of the APC to win elections at all costs portends great danger for our nascent democracy.
“It is unfortunate that a serving lawmaker who is loved by his people for his sterling performance in the Senate can be subjected to this kind of inhumane treatment on the unsubstantiated accusation from the APC. If the peace-loving Senator Rafiu Ibrahim is clamped upon in this manner, our other Candidates are also prone to such flagrant abuse of power. There is no feasible evidence to show that the detained Senator had any connection with the Tuesday’s political attack in Ojoku, which happens to be his hometown. We are not saying the Security Agents should not do their jobs, but to choose the eve of the general elections to detain a strong contender is portraying the Security Agencies as being partisan to the clear advantage of the Candidate of the APC. To assume that the lawmaker could have engineered violence against his own town and people is in the least untenable. Attempts to link him to the fracas are political and unfortunate.
“Few weeks ago, when we raised the alarm over the planned crackdown on members of opposition parties in Kwara by the APC-led FG, some cohorts of the APC dismissed it as a false alarm. But we have been vindicated now as we all are now witnesses to what is going on in the State right now. We condemn the use of state security by the APC to harass and intimidate innocent opposition members all in the name of politics and desperate bid to scheme out other candidates in favour of the Candidates of the APC. This is a shameful display of state power.
“We invite members of the fourth estate of the realm, local and international observers, civil society groups, well-meaning Nigerians and all lovers of democracy to rise in condemnation of this unlawful detention of Senator Rafiu Ibrahim and other opposition members and also demand for their immediate release. We all have a duty to protect democracy and save the sanctity of our electoral process.
“We equally want to place on record that we are seriously concerned about the obvious partisanship of the security operatives now in Kwara for the elections. It is highly unfortunate that security men who are meant to be non-partisan as had been in the past here have now decided to take sides against opposition parties and do the bidding of the party in power. This is bad for our democracy. That is why we are disappointed are of the conviction that the elections in Kwara will not be free, fair and credible,” Adebayo said.