Opposition political parties on the platform of the Coalition of United Political Parties on Monday faulted a statement attributed to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that they are planning to rig the forthcoming general elections.
The parties also said the minister’s claim that they are lobbying countries to discredit the outcome of the election was meant to scare away members of the international community from monitoring the elections.
The CUPP’s reaction was contained in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja by its first national spokesperson, Imo Ugochinyere.
Ugochinyere said contrary to the minister’s claim, the ruling All Progressives Congress was the one deploying machinery to rig the elections.
He said, “Who is attempting to buy votes through the fraudulent TraderMoni which has failed? Who is plotting to import voters from neighbouring countries which has been exposed? Who is deploying security agencies particularly the military through the hurriedly put together Operation Python Dance III to intimidate voters?
“All these have failed, hence like they purchased order with which the Chief Justice of Nigeria was unlawfully forced out of office, they have purchased a Magistrate Court order to arrest key opposition leaders including Senator Bukola Saraki, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, Senator Ben Murray Bruce, Uche Secondus and 16 other leaders of the opposition.
“Let it be known to the Presidency that any election result which is not a reflection of the will of the Nigerian people will be rejected and that the real winner of the election will form a government of Nigeria, by Nigerians and for Nigerians.
“The statement is a failed attempt by Alhaji Lai Mohammed and his paymasters to scare the international community away from monitoring the election as the gatekeepers of developing democracies.”
Ugochinyere said the government was in panic mode because officials have realised that the figures are not looking good for the ruling party.
He added, “Their allegations fall flat in the face and they now know that Nigerians now take it as a patriotic service to the nation to send this government out of the Presidential Villa so that a new government can get Nigeria working again.
“The claims of Alhaji Lai Mohammed are bare faced lies, signs of a guilty conscience and a red herring to deceive the ordinary people and distract the mind of the international community but which will not achieve the set purpose.
The Federal Government had on Monday alleged that the opposition had started lobbying some countries to discredit the outcome of the February 16 presidential election if President Muhammadu Buhari wins.
The President is the candidate of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress.
As part of the alleged arrangement, the government equally alleged that the opposition was planning to send a 10-member delegation to some countries to sell the idea that the Buhari Presidency was not going to hold credible elections.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohamed, made these allegations at a press briefing in Abuja.
The minister was, however, silent on the actual political party that was behind the actions.
When asked to be specific, the minister said, “If you are talking about opposition, we know of the PDP and CUPP” (Peoples Democratic Party and the Coalition of United Political Parties.
Mohammed said the government and Nigerians must not allow those he described as “desperate politicians” to scuttle the nation’s democracy.
Part of the contrive, he alleged, was the plan by the opposition to send a 10-man delegation to some western countries, including Brussels, London and Washington DC.
On Monday, January 21, 2019, the minister had also alleged that some opposition politicians were planning to scuttle the 2019 general elections by allegedly instigating widespread violence across the country.
He said the alarm by the Federal Government was based on what he described as credible intelligence.
He also said then that the plan to scuttle the polls was part of moves to push the nation into a constitutional crisis, with the alleged plotters hoping they could leverage on that to push for an interim government.
While saying when the alarm was raised, the opposition dismissed it because they were shocked that the government got a wind of their actions.
However, on Monday, he said government also had a fresh intelligence report on the alleged new plan by the opposition.
The minister said, “Today, still based on credible intelligence, we can reveal that the opposition is moving a step further.
“They are working hard to discredit the forthcoming election before, during and after the polls. Specifically, they are sending a delegation to some Western capitals, including London, Brussels and Washington DC, to push the concocted line that the Buhari Administration has perfected the plan to rig the polls.
“They are therefore pushing for a rejection of the results if the President wins re-election. They are also predicting carnage in the event of the President’s victory.
“Already, they have started flying the rigging kite domestically. They have been engaging in incendiary rhetoric and in making outlandish claims using several fronts, including the nebulous CUPP which, by the way, is nothing more than a reincarnated Association for Better Nigeria.
“Of course you all know the role that the ABN played in the failed 1993 political transition process.”
Our correspondent reports that ABN was used by some anti-democratic Nigerians to scuttle the 1993 presidential election which led to its annulment by the infamous regime of the military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.).