Alleged incitement: Keyamo, Obi, Datti disagree over call for arrest

Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, SAN, has petitioned the Department of State Service, DSS, demanding the arrest and prosecution for “incitement and treasonable felony”, the Labour Party, LP Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates, Mr Peter Obi and Senator Datti Baba-Ahmed, respectively, for comments he described as incendiary and capable of causing rebellion.

But Diran Onifade, the Head of the Obi-Datti Media Office, described the call by Keyamo as a joke no Nigerian should take seriously.

Similarly, the Presidential Campaign Council of the Labour Party, dismissed the petition filed by Festus Keyamo, describing it as a desperate attempt by Keyamo to gain political relevance.

‘Need to calm frayed nerves’

In the petition addressed to the DSS Director-General and dated March 23, the minister who is the chief spokesman of the All Progressives Congress, APC Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, said in a post-election period such as this, there is need to soothe frayed nerves, lower the temperature and begin the healing process.

“The President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has issued a statement to this effect a few days ago. However, it appears the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed are not prepared to toe this conciliatory path for the sake of peace and national cohesion, whilst exercising their rights to pursue duly laid-down constitutional means of addressing their grievances,” he stated.

‘Incendiary comments’

Keyamo noted that since the declaration of the presidential election results, the duo have been hopping from one media house to the other making incendiary comments and claims about the declaration of the president-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

According to him: “These comments and claims are made, not just within the boundaries of exercising their rights to freedom of speech and the freedom to air their grievances publicly, but they have since crossed the line to call for the outright truncation of democracy by insisting on the adoption of other processes outside the contemplation of our Constitution.

“In some cases, their privies have even called for the establishment of an Interim Government.

“The latest of such are the comments made by Datti Baba-Ahmed on behalf of himself and Mr. Peter Obi on Channels TV on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, wherein he threatened that if the President-elect is sworn in on May 29, 2023, it would ‘signal the end of democracy’. Posing as an accuser, a judge and a jury all by himself, he unilaterally declared the duly elected President-elect as ‘unconstitutional’ and, in a subliminal manner, threatened mayhem if the President-Elect is sworn in on May 29, 2023.

“I also have it on good authority that Mr. Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed have camped some youths in a popular hotel in Abuja with the sole aim of instructing them to push out inciting messages everyday on social media in order to cause panic and fear within the federation and to incite people to riot and social unrest.

“It is noteworthy that Peter Obi and Datti Baba-Ahmed have submitted Election Petitions to the courts for adjudication, but their conducts and utterances amount to subversion of the processes they have instituted in court and a subversion of our Constitution and the laid-down processes for addressing disputes and grievances. These conducts and utterances are a build-up to something more sinister and it is important you rein them in now.

“In the circumstance, I submit this petition in my personal capacity as a patriotic Nigerian to invite/arrest, interrogate and after investigation, if necessary, charge both individuals to court for their conducts which amount to incitement and treasonable felony.”

Keyamo’s crude joke shouldn’t be taken seriously —Obi-Datti

Reacting to Keyamo’s call, yesterday, Mr. Diran Onifade, the Head of the Obi-Datti Media Office, described the call as a joke no Nigerian should take seriously.

Onifade while responding to a question on Keyamo’s petition on Thursday, told Vanguard that Keyamo’s call was unworthy of a response because it was a huge joke.

“Such a call is a huge joke nobody should take seriously,” he said.

Also speaking on the matter yesterday the Presidential Campaign Council of the Labour Party, described Keyamo’s call as a desperate attempt to gain relevance.

Spokesperson of the LP PCC, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, who stated this in a statement yesterday, said:  “Datti is a free citizen of this country and entitled to his fundamental right of freedom of fxpression.  Datti never called for insurrection or any act envisaging treason.

“Keyamo talked about healing, that means Nigeria is sick, that means he recognised that February 25 which announced his principal as the President elect and the March 18 state elections were marred by blatant rigging, high level violence, voters suppression and intimidation orchestrated by his party.

“Surprisingly Keyamo who claims to be a ‘patriotic citizen’ closed his eyes to the ethnic and tribal vitriolic by his party and their supporters against non-Yorubas in Lagos.

“The so-called ‘patriotic citizen’ didn’t report MC Oluomo who told Igbos not to vote in Lagos.

“After the shameful Chatam House appearance of Keyamo’s principal, his principal was recorded telling key supporters to fight, snatch, grab and run with ballot boxes which were exactly what happened in the elections.   Why didn’t Keyamo the ‘patriotic citizen’ report to the DSS.

“Keyamo is just making baseless accusations, he’s a known rabble-rouser and chatterbox who doesn’t want to lose political relevance before his paymaster who has now seen him for what he is, which is a political paperweight who has achieved nothing as a minister except posting fake news to rile up the polity on social media.”

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