There are indications that the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major-General Muhammdu Buhari (rtd), may be confronted by protesters as he makes his way to address the Royal Institute of International Affairs today at Chatham House in London.
An unconfirmed source in the APC who is in London for the speaking engagement, told THISDAY yesterday evening that the opposition party had uncovered a plot to mobilise sponsored Nigerian protesters who will storm the venue of the lecture.
According to the source, the plot to recruit the protesters is aimed at embarrassing the APC and possibly disrupt Buhari’s speech at the institute.
“PDP has sent some people to come and protest and carry placards to disrupt Buhari’s presentation at the Chatham House. By the grace of God, the event will come and pass and the plot will not come to pass,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has dismissed online news stories yesterday that Buhari was feeling unwell and was thus conspicuously absent at an APC rally held in London on Tuesday.
Mohammed, who spoke to THISDAY in a telephone interview from London, said there was no rally in London but rather an interactive session with some party members held at Church Hall.
He said the session was attended by a few of the party leaders, including Senator Bola Tinubu, Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi, Nasiru el-Rufai and APC National Chairman, Chief John Oyegun.
According to the APC spokesman, Buhari was not expected at the function, which was merely used to intimate the APC London chapter on the manifesto of the party and preparations for the elections.
“What happened was that there was an interactive meeting of some APC members with the leadership of the party in London and I was there but I didn’t even get to know until late Monday evening. Certainly, there was no way Buhari will be there, because he was not aware of the event and there is nobody who was going to persuade him to be there.
“I was there along with Nasir el-Rufai, (Asiwaju) Bola Tinubu, Chief John Oyegun and Governor Chibuike Amaechi. Besides, can you hold an APC rally at night, can you hold a rally in a Church hall.
“There was no rally whatsoever, it was an interactive session between the party leaders and the APC in London.
“Buhari was not invited, it was only an opportunity for us to present to our UK members the party’s manifesto and to tell them how prepared we are for the elections following the postponement,” he said.
Meanwhile, the mainstream support group of the APC presidential candidate has threatened to discountenance the peace accord entered into by political party leaders if the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and President Goodluck Jonathan’s men fail to stop making inflammatory remarks on Buhari.
The umbrella support group known as the Buhari Suport Group (BSO) also warned of the negative consequences of any move to sack the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, the group’s Head of Media and ICT, Dr. Chidia Maduekwe, said the party’s supporters have been constrained by the adherence to the accord on peaceful conduct of the elections by condoning acidic insults, abuses, incendiary and inflammatory remarks on Buhari by the PDP.
He said the sudden shift in election date was accepted by APC for the sake of the overall interest of national peace but since that measure was taken, the party has been on the receiving end, with the PDP heaping hate messages on the former military head of state.
“Our teeming supporters were urgently appealed to maintain calm with the assurances that six weeks will soon pass by, as if it were just six days.
“Regrettably, following this postponement, the PDP government acting in cahoots with the close aides and associates of Mr. President have been falling head over heels among themselves as they compete on who delivers most acidic insults, abuses, incendiary words and inflammatory remarks on our revered presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari.
“These actions are all in breach of the Abuja peace accord jointly signed by all the presidential candidates. This is totally unacceptable and consequently we cannot continue to guarantee the tolerance limit of our teeming supporters nationwide who are daily being inundated with death wish commentaries on the person of General Muhammadu Buhari,” the group said.
Speaking on the fears of the possible removal of Jega from INEC, Maduekwe said any such action by the government would lead to a dangerous slide of Nigeria into the abyss.
He said APC was presently considering what its response would be in the event that there is a major shake-up in INEC.
“While we are not worried about the current law suits already in court seeking to disqualify Buhari over questions of his birth certificate and educational qualifications, as we trust that the judiciary will be seen to do the needful.
“However, the existence of a possible legal plan to consolidate several cases on the elections and candidates still pending in courts by 28 March, and have pro-government sympathisers seeking for court injunctions to stop the elections until all such cases are resolved is palpable.”
“All these are reminiscences of the inglorious ABN days of Arthur Nzeribe just to truncate MKO Abiola’s free and fair election as president in 1993.
“We certainly shall not subscribe to any script that is centred on how to oust Jega (by forcibly sending him on terminal leave) and replacing him with another northern Muslim professor considered to be a more pliable successor.
“Such a scenario demanding more time to enable the new commission chair to settle down before holding any elections is another shift of the goal post.
“The worst case would be the push to stop INEC from using the new electronic PVC-card readers thereby allowing unfettered access to intended election-day fraud without deterrence,” he said.