FG, Obi Trade Accusations On Treason Charge Over 2023 Polls:
Days after being in the eye of the storm over a leaked tape conversation with Founder and Presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church Worldwide, Dr. David Oyedepo, presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, was again drawn out when the Federal Government accused him of treason, weeks after candidate of the ruling party, Bola Tinubu, won the hotly contested presidential election.
Mohammed accused Obi of inciting people to violence over the outcome of the presidential elections, saying it is treasonable.
Obi, who came third in the February 25 presidential election won by Tinubu, and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who finished second, is challenging the results of the election in court. Both Obi and Atiku have publicly called on their supporters to refrain from violence while they challenge the results in court.
Mohammed is in Washington to engage with international media organisations and think-tanks on the just-concluded 2023 polls.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Minister had already engaged with the Washington Post, Voice of America, Associated Press and Foreign Policy Magazine.
During the respective interactions with the media organisations, the Minister said it was wrong for Obi to seek redress in court over the outcome of the polls and also incite people to violence.
“Obi and his running mate, Yusuf Datti-Ahmed, cannot be threatening Nigerians that if the President-elect, 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 a democrat that he claimed to be. A democrat should not believe in democracy only when he wins election,” he said.
He added that in challenging the election results, there was no pathway to victory for either Obi or Atiku. According to him, the duo 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, he must also have scored one-quarter of votes cast in at least 25 states.
“Only the President-elect met the criteria by scoring 8.79 million votes and having one-quarter of all the votes cast in 29 states of the federation. Atiku came second with 6.9 million votes, but was only able to make one-quarter of the votes cast in 21 states, while Obi came third with 5.8 million votes, but won only one-quarter of the votes cast in 15 states.
“You cannot win an election in a poll where you came a distant third position and failed to meet constitutional requirements. Obi, while complaining of fraud, has not disowned his victory in Lagos,” he said.
Elaborating on his mission to the U.S., Mohammed said he was there to correct the negative narratives being promoted by naysayers and opposition to the election.
He said the opposition, having lost in the election, was alleging fraud, calling for its cancellation and constitution of an interim government.
IN a swift rebuttal, Obi said: “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 peace and issue-based campaign and never campaigned based on ethnicity or religion. I am committed to due process, and presently seeking redress in the court.
“I urge those engaged in this de-marketing process to stop presenting Nigeria in such 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.”
He further indicated that the present de-marketing strategy and various campaigns of calumny directed at him by some government and political party spokespersons would present Nigeria in a very bad light.
He said: “It is most unfortunate that these consistent efforts 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.”
Also, National Chairman of LP, Comrade Julius Abure, has called out the Minister of Information, advising him to stop misinforming the international community about the true political situation in Nigeria, adding that Muhammed should rather be admonishing spokespersons of the ruling party.
“Our presidential candidate is a peaceful and law abiding person. Despite the fact that the election was provocatively rigged, he decided to be peaceful and toe the part of justice. In spite of all pressures from our supporters to move into the street to protest the outcome of the general election and to reclaim the mandate freely given to our candidate by the people, he has decided to calm the nerves in other to give the judicial process a chance.
“The presidential candidate of LP is the only candidate whose campaign was issue-based. In spite of all provocation, it was LP and its candidates that were attacked in Lagos, Rivers and other states, but we have continued to promote peace. Therefore, for the Minister of Information to be admonishing our presidential candidate, was done in bad fate.”
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), yesterday, disagreed with Mohammed over his warning that Obi would be committing treason should he continue to dispute the so-called victory of President- elect Tinubu.
The group, in a statement by its national coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said such warning does not arise as a President-elect does not possess any constitutional powers, authority or functions to perform on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Chapter 4 of the Constitution guarantees every citizen of Nigeria, including Obi, the fundamental freedoms, including freedom to associate with everyone and to exercise his freedom of speech.
“We are urging Mohammed to stop overheating the polity because there is no law that says persons who feel cheated in an election should sit indoors.
“President-elect is simply someone on rehearsal and hasn’t yet been conferred with any legal powers exercisable by a sitting President. And even a citizen President can be thoroughly criticised by the people of Nigeria, who owns the sovereignty of Nigeria,” HURIWA said.