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Lagos govt to probe attack on Atiku

Posted by By RAZAQ BAMIDELE, OLA AGBAJE and KENNY ASHAKA, Kaduna on 2006/04/10 | Views: 462 |

Lagos govt to probe attack on Atiku

Lagos State Government on Sunday said it would set up a high-powered judicial enquiry into the attack on Vice President Atiku Abubakar in the state at the weekend.

…Akinyele, CD, Northern group demand

Lagos State Government on Sunday said it would set up a high-powered judicial enquiry into the attack on Vice President Atiku Abubakar in the state at the weekend.

The state goverment described the incident as an ominous danger to the nation’s democracy.
A statement signed by John Odey, national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the attack was highly condemnable. “The people who attacked Vice President Atiku Abubakar could not have been party men. Even if they were, PDP dissociates itself from such development.”

In the same vein, former Minister of Sports, Chief Alex Akinyele, President, Campaign for Democracy (CD), Moshood Erubami and Northern Coalition for the Sustenance of Democracy, as well as Movement for Democracy and Progress, advised the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to tender unreserved apology to the vice president.

While the Lagos government in a release signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Dele Alake, condemned the mob action against Atiku at the Presidential Wing of the Lagos airport, Akinyele viewed the attack as not on the person of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar but on the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, describing it as "barbaric, inhuman, animalistic and shameful", and thereby called for unreserved apology to the attacked Vice President.
Chief Akinyele, who further described the attack as unfortunate, said it was a slap on the face of Nigeria, calling on all to condemn it.
While advising the PDP leadership to write a letter of apology to the Vice President, the former Sports Minister also called on them to caution their followers to know how to treat the image of the country.
The President of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), Moshood Erubami, in his own reaction expressed displeasure over the incident, saying it was a fallout of roforofo fight between the president and his deputy.

While reasoning that the "impoverished Nigerians should be happy that what binds them (leaders) together is scattering them," Erubami charged all Nigerians to form a united ground to gain their freedom from those he described as selfish overlords.
A northern based pro-democracy group, Northern Coalition for the Sustenance of Democracy and the Movement for Democracy and Progress, also warned that "the feud between the president and his vice can lead to collapse of democracy."

The group in a statement signed by its President, Mallam Rabiu Khalid, expressed fears that "the situation is capable of undermining the gains of democracy in the country," adding: "the feud also has the capacity to trigger off ethnic and sectarian strife."

In another reaction, the President of West Africa Bar Association, Mr Femi Falana, challenged the Inspector General of Police, Mr Sunday Ehindero to show the public the police permit obtained by the riotous crowd that ambushed the number two citizen in Lagos.

Falana, who accused the police of double standard also agreed that the incident "portends grave danger for the survival of the current democratic experiment and corporate existence of the country."
The full text of the reaction of the Lagos State Government runs thus:
"The Lagos State Government notes with dismay and utmost disapproval the preconceived and dastardly orchestrated attack on the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, who was on a private visit to Lagos at the weekend.

"Preliminary intelligence reports indicate that miscreants and thugs perpetrated this brazen aggression, in high and low places, ostensibly due to the PDP’s intra-party divergence of views on grave national issues. The Lagos State Government condemns this ugly manifestation of intolerance and disrespect for dissent, a pivotal and essential rudiment of democracy, by members of the PDP.

"It is important to reiterate the fact that the security of lives and properties in this state is constitutionally vested in the Chief Executive of Lagos State who doubles as the Chief Security Officer of the state. Consequently, the Lagos State Governor has the enormous responsibility to protect the lives and property of everybody who operates within the jurisdiction of Lagos State. More importantly, the presence of the country’s second citizen in the state means that he is the official guest of the Lagos State government. It is an august occasion that requires serious adherence with laid down security and protocol preparations, for if the security of the Vice President could be compromised, it will become a burden on the Lagos State Government and the nation.

"In this context, the State Government observes the tardiness of the relevant agencies. For instance, not long ago, powerless mothers who organised a march to sympathise with those who lost their children in the Sosoliso tragedy were ferociously engaged, dispersed and brutalised despite the fact that they invited the police to observe the march.

"And just last week, the nation witnessed the shameful disruption of a planned meeting involving eminent personalities, including a former head of state, current vice president, former inspectors general of police, governors, senators, honourable members of the House of Representatives and other senior citizens to deliberate on the state of the nation at the Sheraton, Abuja on the pretext that the organisers did not obtain police permit in compliance with the Public Order Act.

It is therefore worrisome that a gang of hooligans masquerading as members of the PDP, could be allowed to lay siege, first, to the private residence of the Vice President and later, on the presidential lounge at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport without any obvious interference by the relevant agencies. Moreso, when the airport rules and regulations disallow the use of high capacity commercial Molue buses in the airport environment.

"For the avoidance of doubt, the Lagos State Government has always assured and ensured the protection of the fundamental human rights of everybody to freedom of movement, expression and association without let or hindrance irrespective of the political affiliation, religious affinities or social creed of the individuals. At this hour, we, once again, reiterate our conviction that Lagos is a land of freedom, equality, liberty and fraternity. This is not just a matter of principle. It is a code of practice. This is why Lagos remains the hotbed of political liberalism in Nigeria. Indeed, since the 50’s when Northern leaders were wrongly assailed while boarding a train to the North, Lagos has never witnessed the show of shame displayed by the retrogressive and reactionary members of the PDP last Saturday.

"In particular, the Lagos State Government has maintained the culture of healthy debate and rivalry bequeathed to us by the founding fathers of the Nigerian democratic movement, such as Awolowo, Zik and Sardauna. That is why we shall not tolerate any miscreant or group of rascals who want to desecrate the age-old tradition and cherished core human values on the altar of political intolerance, prejudices and brigandage.

"Indeed, whatever may be the intra-party disagreement within the PDP or any other party for that matter, no individual, group or institution has the right to circumscribe the freedom of anybody, least of all, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

"It is well known that the Alliance for Democracy Government of the Lagos State Government has confronted the most virulent opposition since 1999 but we have never intimidated or physically harassed or persecuted any arrowhead of the PDP opposition in Lagos State. On the contrary, it is on record that the PDP has held several rallies at various places in Lagos, such as the Skypower Club, Ikeja GRA and the Tafawa Balewa Square. At no time were they molested, disturbed or hindered by the AD or the Lagos State Government. This is in line with the cherished tradition of political tolerance to which all decent and civilised human beings and organisations like us subscribe. We did not need to disturb the Tsunami rally but the cataclysmic consequences have put the PDP in disarray till today.

"Therefore, in view of the ominous danger posed to political stability, peace and ethno-religious harmony in this state by the criminal ambush of the Vice President’s entourage, the Lagos State Government intends to set up a high powered judicial panel to probe the incident and bring the culprits to book. We believe this action will prevent any similar attempt in future and continue to make Lagos State a place where every Nigerian, whatever his status or political views, will feel free to call home."

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