Battle-ready helmet-wearing soldiers have reportedly been stationed in front of the personal residence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the past three days. According to reports, the stern-looking soldiers numbering about thirty (30) are in three patrol vans and an army truck. The soldiers have allegedly become a permanent feature very close to the entrance of the gate to Tinubu’s house along Bourdillon Road in Ikoyi.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is perturbed by this ugly development. The presence of soldiers so close to the main gate of Tinubu’s residence gives grave cause for concern because Tinubu is the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition party that has been giving the ruling party sleepless nights.
We recall that around 90% of members of the ruling party (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP) who defected joined APC. These include five serving governors, several senators and numerous members of the House of Representatives. The collateral damage to the PDP is so serious that the ruling party has become a minority in the National Assembly.
MURIC strongly suspects that the Presidency holds Tinubu responsible for debilitating its political empire. The same Tinubu also singlehandedly masterminded the takeover of the South West from PDP during the 2007 general elections. But he allegedly gave President Jonathan the same region in the 2011 presidential election after an alleged yet deceitful secret accord which he has refused to renew this time around. Is the siege on his home an attempt to cow him into entering into a similar secret accord in the 2015 polls? Or is it just for President Jonathan’s pound of flesh?
We denounce the misuse of soldiers by the Presidency and demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of those soldiers. Soldiers have never been misused like this under any other regime. President Jonathan will therefore go down in Nigerian history as the most vindictive in power. Does Shekau live in Tinubu’s house? Are the Chibok girls being kept there?
Again we recall that soldiers were used by the ruling party to arrest and detain members of the opposition during the gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun States. Is the deployment of soldiers to Tinubu’s residence a dress rehearsal for the same dirty, diabolical, tyrannical and unconstitutional exercise in the 2015 polls?
The deployment of troops to Tinubu’s house without any justifiable explanation is very unhealthy for democracy. It is a threat to freedom of movement. We know that election cannot be free and fair if there is no balanced playing ground for both the ruling party and the opposition.
The rigging of elections does not necessarily occur on the day of election alone. It often starts long before the D-day. With the grounding of opposition aircrafts, with the denial of landing rights for opposition planes which are already midair, by soldiers in the home of the main opposition leader, President Jonathan has demonstrated beyond any modicum of doubt that he is not preparing for a free and fair election.
In view of the above, MURIC demands guarantee for the safety of Tinubu and other leaders of the APC as well as leaders of all other political parties from President Jonathan. Nigerians are no fools. From now on, we will hold Jonathan responsible if anything happens to any opposition leader, critic or activist.
We charge Nigerians to remain vigilant, resolute but peaceful and law-abiding. There is no retreat, no surrender. We refuse to be intimidated. This peaceful revolution must be pursued until victory is achieved for the Nigerian people.
Finally, we alert foreign embassies in Nigeria to keenly watch the unfolding spectacle. We also draw the attention of the international community, particularly the African Union and Nigeria’s immediate neighbours in West Africa to the dangerous game of using soldiers to silence the opposition.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)