The presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi on Tuesday described the allegation of treason levelled against him and his vice presidential candidate, Yussuf Datti Baba-Ahmed by the federal government as malicious, fictitious and an apparent campaign of calumny against them.
Obi reacted to the accusation of treason levelled against him and his running mate in the just concluded presidential election by the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed.
Speaking in Washington DC, United States, during his official engagements with some international media organisations, Mohammed had earlier on Tuesday cautioned the former governor of Anambra state to desist from pushing his people to violence over the outcome of the presidential elections, insisting that neither him nor the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, have pathway to the presidency of the country.
On same day, the former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, alleged that the Directorate of State Security Service (DSS) has since deviated from its core mandate in the last 10 years by becoming a willing tool to the government in power
Mohammed accused Obi of committing treason and inciting his supporters via his recent public utterances.
The minister also described Obi as a desperate politician.
However, our collection of recent events before and after the election does not support the allegation of incitement against Obi.
Mohammed did not also mention the particular inciting remark made by the LP presidential candidate.
While his supporters are perceived to be young irascible Nigerians, Obi in his public appearances has repeatedly called for calm while insisting that the law courts must be allowed to decide the election matter.
In March, Obi had urged his supporters against protesting on court premises when the presidential election tribunal commences.
“As we go about seeking redress for our stolen mandate, I plead with ‘OBIdients’ to respect the sanctity of the court premises and give our legal team the space and peaceful environment to carry out their duties.
“The court premises is not and should not be turned into a rally ground. I urge the Obidients to go about their businesses peacefully,” he cautioned.
Also last month, Obi had promised that he would not endanger the relative peace existing in Nigeria while challenging the results of the February 25 presidential election, while reacting to a viral statement in which he was alleged to have said that he never lost an election and that he would fight and “bleed to death until” his mandate was restored. He, however, denied ever saying so.
Obi had also appealed to members of the “Obidient” family and all men and women of goodwill to remain calm and prayerful, described the allegation as not only false, but also mischievous, misleading and out of character.
“I have worked through similar paths in the past and was successful. I shall follow the same path without endangering the relative peace in the country, which is actually what those election riggers are striving desperately to upset,” Obi said through his Media Adviser, Mr. Valentine Obienyem.
But the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted Lai Mohammed as having said it was wrong for Obi in one breathe to seek redress in court over the outcome of the polls and in another breathe to incite people to violence.
Mohammed was in Washington to engage with international media organisations and Think-tanks on the just-concluded 2023 polls and had so far engaged with the Washington Post, Voice of America, Associated Press and Foreign Policy Magazine during the tour.
“Obi and his Vice, Datti Ahmed cannot be threatening Nigerians that if the president-elect, Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) 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 claims to be. A democrat should not believe in democracy only when he wins the election,” Mohammed said.
The minister added that although they were challenging the election results, there was no pathway to victory for either Obi or Atiku of the PDP.
According to the minister, both Obi and Atiku failed to meet the constitutional requirements to be declared as president.
He added: “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 vote cast in 29 states of the federation.”
The minister said Atiku who came second with 6.9 million votes was only able to make one-quarter of the votes cast in 21 states, maintaining that Obi came third with 5.8 million votes, but won only one-quarter of 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. Peter Obi, while complaining of fraud has not disowned his victory in Lagos,” the minister stressed.
Speaking further on his mission to the US, the minister said he was there to correct the negative narrative being promoted by those he called naysayers and opposition on the election.
The government spokesman said the opposition, having lost in the election was alleging fraud, calling for its cancellation and constitution of an interim government.
“We have come here to balance that skewed narrative and to tell the world unambiguously that the just-concluded general elections in Nigeria were the fairest, most transparent and authentic in the history of Nigeria.
“The election is the fairest and credible because of the introduction of the Bimodal Voters Verification System (BVAS) which I regard as a game changer. BVAS technology has helped to weed out ghost and illegal voters, eliminate multiple voting and return sanity to the elections,” he noted.
Quoting from the report by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the minister said that BVAS, during the polls, worked 97 per cent and added unprecedented credibility to the exercise.
Meanwhile, Obi in a reaction, said that he was saddened by the minister’s comments, describing them as malicious, fictitious and an apparent campaign of calumny against his person.
In a release made available to journalists, Obi said he was not perturbed by the minister’s reckless use of the word ‘treason’ because, as far as he (Obi) was concerned, he had taken the legal route towards the recovery of his mandate and has remained committed to that.
“Any person ‘seeing’ treason in a clear legal process should explain to Nigerians how opting for the tribunal by myself and my Deputy amounts to treason,” Obi argued.
He added: “In the past few days, I’ve observed various campaigns of calumny directed at my person, the latest being allegations attributed to the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, in Washington DC. It is most unfortunate that these consistent efforts to portray me in a manner, quite contrary to what I am and my core values, are coming from such high quarters.
“Minister Lai accusing me of stoking the fire of insurrection is totally fictitious and malicious. I have never advocated or encouraged anyone to undermine the Nigerian state; I’ve never sponsored or preached any action against the Nigerian state,” he stressed.
Obi said it was utterly perplexing that a minister would be busy travelling round the world, telling Nigerians that the purpose was to tell the world the true story of the Nigerian election.
He described the move as laughable, against the background of the fact that most of those countries sent their people to monitor the election and had all received reports from the monitors, as well as from their embassies.
“Between Lai Mohammed and their monitors/embassies, who would these countries believe?” he asked.
He further said that such reckless behaviour, sponsored with tax payers’ money, was among the reasons those countries often do not take Nigeria seriously.
“The billions spent on those meaningless trips would be enough to fix several dilapidated schools in the country,” Obi added.
While urging Nigerians to always remain law-abiding and hopeful for the coming of the ‘New Nigeria’, Obi restated his steadfast inclination to maintaining the peace at all times.
“I’m on record, as always, advocating peace and issue-based campaign, not a campaign based on ethnicity or religion. I’m committed to due process and presently seeking redress in court. I urge those engaged in this ‘demarketing’ 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. And this is possible,” he insisted.