By Itoro BASSEY
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Speaker’ Forum has condemned the actions of the Nigeria Police over the recent invitation extended to Mr. Onofiok Luke, Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, on allegations of threatening to stop members of the APC from campaigning in any part of state ahead of the 2019 general elections, saying the intimidation must stop.
John Gaul Lebo, chairman of the forum and Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, in a press release he signed, Sunday, said the APC’s petition which preceded Mr. Luke’s invitation and which was quickly approved by President Muhammadu Buhari with instructions to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, to act on it was a ploy to harass and intimidate the Akwa Ibom Speaker after several attempts by the APC to blackmail him had failed.
Lebo, who described the allegation as “baseless, unfounded and trumped up charges” said it was laughable for the APC to have claimed that Speaker Luke threatened to stop their members from campaigning in Akwa-Ibom.
His words: “It is even more laughable to want to reduce the character, personality and charisma of one of the most popular politicians in Akwa-Ibom to the lowly level of thuggery and violence.
“Speaker Luke is law-abiding, very responsible and loved by his people and he is deploying all his assets (both intellectual and political) to ensure that the PDP continues to hold sway in Akwa-Ibom state. Ironically, it is the ruling party that is rather being intimidated by his political standing, capabilities and capacity. Hence, the malicious but empty allegations.
“Obviously, this act by the APC in connivance with the Police and the President is a clear demonstration of desperation of the ruling party to win elections via molestation, harassment and Intimidation of the opposition PDP members; and sadly, the police unfortunately has made its self a willing and ready tool to perpetrate this unwholesome orchestration”.
Lebo therefore advised the APC-led government to look for genuine means of winning elections rather than using “uncharitable and untoward decoys”.
He noted that the PDP Speakers’ Forum would be on guard and on red alert and would also be monitoring the political development in Akwa Ibom State closely, warning that “any attempt by the APC to bring Speaker Luke to their despicable conundrum of social, political and moral ineptitude” would amount to “an exercise in futility”.
He said, “we make bold to state that the PDP Speakers Forum will not sit by and watch any of its members being hounded unjustly by either the APC, security agencies or the President. Again, Speaker Luke like any other PDP Speaker cannot be intimidated neither can he be manipulated to bowing to the antics of the APC in Akwa-Ibom state”.
Luke, together with the Director General of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Divine Mandate Campaign Council, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga; Commissioner for Environment, Iniobong Essien; Chairman of Uyo local government area, Imoh Okon; and the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Security Matters, Fubara Duke, were recently invited by the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, over a petition written by Ini Okopido, chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State concerning the destruction of some APC campaign billboards and an alleged threats by the Speaker to stop the APC from campaigning in the state.
The Speaker had, during an interview with assembly correspondents, last week, said that the APC cannot use President Muhammadu Buhari to harass and intimidate him or any member of the PDP in Akwa Ibom State as preparations for the 2019 general elections intensify.