SECURITY agents on Sunday body-searched the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, on his return to the country after an extensive stay in the Middle East.
Atiku has been in Dubai where he presided over a series of political strategy meetings of his presidential campaign.
The former Vice President confirmed the search incident himself in a tweet.
He said the development which saw a combined team of security agents at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja frisking his body, was planned to intimidate him.
In the tweet on his verified two handles, @atiku, he said: “I arrived in Abuja this morning to a search by agents of the state, aimed at intimidating me and my staff.
“I am committed to building a Nigeria where no citizen is intimidated by agents of the state who are paid to protect them.”
The PDP in a reaction condemned the action, noting that even though the security agents did not find anything incriminating on their candidate, they however tempered with his documents including campaign materials.
In a statement issued by Kola Ologbondiyan, the National Publicity Secretary of the party in Abuja on Sunday, it condemned in the strongest terms what it saw as “the unleashing of a special security squad of army, police and paramilitary agencies by the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency to physically harass our Presidential candidate.”
The statement added: “It was shocking when the deadly squad, in a Gestapo style attack, and acting on ‘orders from above’ rushed our candidate immediately he landed and attempted to physically manhandle him before invading his aircraft with dangerous weapons to conduct a violent search.
“While they did not find anything incriminating on our Presidential candidate, this deadly squad, violently tampered with certain personal documents and gadgets belonging to him, including some of his campaign documents.”
The PDP said it completely rejected such violence against the person of its Presidential candidate by the Buhari Presidency, “which we know has been jittery over Atiku Abubakar’s soaring popularity since his emergence as our candidate.”
The main opposition party invited the world to note that “having failed to drag down our Presidential candidate with spurious allegations and smear campaign, the APC has now resorted to state-backed violence against him and must be held responsible should any harm befall him or any member of his campaign team.”
The statement remarked that “the PDP is for peace, but we will not accept this recourse to violence, which we believe is orchestrated to directly harm our Presidential candidate, foist a siege mentality on the system and set the stage for series of coordinated violence, ostensibly to truncate a peaceful conduct of the 2019 general election.”
It admonished the Buhari Presidency and the APC to bear in mind that “this is an attack on our democracy and the collective sensibility of the overwhelming majority of Nigerians, across board, who have accepted the choice of Atiku Abubakar as Nigeria’s next President and they will vigorously deploy every means available in a democracy to defend him and our democratic process.”
The party further said: “Today, Atiku Abubakar, as a Presidential candidate, has the highest demography of supporters and volunteers across our nation and we will not hesitate to call them out in defence of democracy if another such attempt is made against our candidate.
“Nigeria is not a conquered territory and anybody that wants to foist a totalitarian regime on our land will be firmly resisted
“We invite President Buhari to recall that as a Presidential candidate, he had occasions to travel out of the country and the government in power never besieged or harassed him in any way. His administration should therefore not introduce such violence in our democratic space.”
The PDP counseled the APC and the Buhari Presidency to know that power belongs to God and that the time has come for Nigerians to choose a new President, “for which they have collectively rallied around Atiku Abubakar and that their resort to violence, smear campaign, character assassination and rigging will not change this resolve.”
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