Two major opposition political parties on Sunday rose up over the arrest of former Governor of Zamfara State, Senator Sani Yerima, saying the act was aimed at intimidating members of the opposition by the Federal Government.
The two parties, Action Congress of Nigeria and the All Nigerian Peoples Party, described as unacceptable the arrest of Yerima in Kaduna State over alleged inciting comments on a live radio programme run by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Kaduna. Though the Senator was released barely hours after, the National Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the arrest might signal an impending clampdown on the opposition by what it described as “an increasingly jittery Federal Government.”
The party said Yerima’s arrest by the police, for saying in a radio interview that there would be a mass protest if the Independent National Electoral Commission refused to register the newly formed All Progressive Congress after it would have met all legal requirements, was nothing short of “budding fascism.”
It said Yerima did not say anything extra-ordinary by threatening a protest, adding that protests remained an inseparable part of liberal democracy and could not be taken away or stopped by anyone.
The party also accused the ruling Peoples Democratic Party of working in conjunction with some unnamed people to register what it called a “phantom African Peoples Congress,” which it said was done to deny the APC registration with the INEC. The statement said, “We will like to say, in support of Senator Yerima, that if INEC refuses to register the All Progressives Congress, when all the legal requirements have been met, the protest in Tahrir Square in Egypt will be a child’s play compared to what we will do at the Eagle Square.
“We say this because we are aware that the Peoples Democratic Party, which is mortally afraid of the rise and rise of the APC, is behind the phantom African Peoples Congress which has applied to INEC for registration, in an effort to instigate an acronym crisis and give INEC a reason, if it needs any, not to register the All Progressives Congress.
‘’But we will like to warn that if indeed INEC has not merged with the PDP, as one of our leaders, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) has brilliantly said, then we do hope that the electoral body, which by the way is not unaware of the All Progressives Congress as the authentic APC, will not succumb to the evil machinations of the apprehensive PDP.’’