The spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Muhammed was yesterday arrested by security agents. There are also allegations of arrest of polling agents in some parts of Osun State where the gubernatorial election took off today.
Although Alhaji Lai Muhammad has been released, we of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) are worried by his arrest. We wonder what offence he has committed to warrant being arrested on the eve of a gubernatorial election. His arrest was in bad taste.
It is not good for democracy. The Federal Government (FG) is yet to cultivate the culture of sportsmanship in politics. Arrest of the opposition, particularly on the eve of an election is reactionary, conservative and undemocratic.
It is not too difficult for Nigerians to guess the motive for his arrest. It was designed to destabilize and demobilize him while the ruling party at the center has a field day. The arrest was also meant to gag the opposition because Lai Muhammad is the spokesperson of the APC. He is known to be articulate and fearless. Is FG trying to prevent this man from doing his job particularly in these crucial moments? What is FG trying to hide?
Whatever happens, the onus is on the security agents to explain the casus belli for his arrest to Nigerians and save the citizens the guess work. This is what they owe tax payers.
The rumour making the rounds about the arrest of polling agents is an ill wind that will blow nobody any good. It had better not be. MURIC warns that Osun 2014 is a test tube. It has all the ingredients of a crystal ball for forecasting the conduct of 2015 general elections. To be or not to be, that is the question.
We therefore call on the FG to caution its security agents. Overzealousness on the part of those who should maintain law and order will earn FG a bad name. The attitude of the security agents posted to Osun State for this election leaves more questions than answers. For instance, why is it that only members of one party, particularly APC, are being placed under arrest? Why are some soldiers wearing masks?
We are not impressed by the silence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the issue of hooded soldiers and arrest of key opposition leaders. INEC is the only referee on the election pitch. It should not close its eyes to rough tackles from either side. There are rules of engagement in elections. No political party should enjoy the patronage of the security agents at the expense of others. INEC has a duty to call offenders to order. It should not wait for litigation at the courts.
Finally, we remind the FG that the world is watching the conduct of this election. Winning the election after committing acts of impunity will rob the ‘winner’ of integrity, create bad blood in the state and deprive the citizens of Osun of the dividends of democracy.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)