- PDP vows to resist opposition party’s ‘attempt to truncate democracy’
Chuks Okocha, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Shola Oyeyipo and Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos â€¨
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said it is being forced to put on hold its membership registration following the ransacking of its main data office in Lagos by officials of the Department of State Security (DSS) and OP-MESA.
DSS, in a statement Sunday, claimed it had invaded APC’s office on Saturday following a petition that it was being used to clone Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) for the purpose of hacking into the commission’s data base in order to corrupt and manipulate it.
However, APC at a press conference held in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, described as plainly implausible and a witless afterthought the reason given by the DSS for invading the data centre of the party in Lagos at the weekend, calling the security service a shameless apologist of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But as the main opposition party denounced the charge against it, the Lagos Police Command announced yesterday that it recovered about 1,700 voters’ cards from a bush at the Seme border at the weekend.
Speaking on the invasion of APC’s office, Mohammed wondered why any self-respecting intelligence-gathering agency would rely on beer parlour gossip in carrying out its onerous responsibility, “especially in a politically-charged environment like what prevails in the country at present”.
He said: “The spokesperson for the DSS said the organisation had put the building housing the data centre under surveillance, and that it only acted after it was convinced that ‘unwholesome activities’ were taking place. What hogwash!
“If indeed they put the place under surveillance, would they not have been able to establish that it is an APC data centre? Even if they were not sure, what prevented them from obtaining a court order permitting them to enter and search the building instead of carrying out a Gestapo-like operation? Are security agencies above the law?
“To highlight their crudity and lack of professionalism, they had to go and arrest one of the staffers who was not on duty just to get the password to the servers they vandalised and took away. This speaks volumes about the limitation of the DSS’ intelligence-gathering ability.
“If they had broken into the Boko Haram computer, would they have gone to arrest Abubakar Shekau or any of his commanders to give them the password to it?
“Nigerians can now see why no progress has been made in using intelligence gathering to root out the evil Boko Haram.”
APC said far from the lies concocted by the DSS, which has now become one of the enforcement arms of the PDP, the real reason the service broke into the offices of the party was to deprive it of its membership data base so it could no longer contact its members, and also to aid and abet the rigging of the 2015 elections by the PDP.
“With the membership data base now in their possession, it has become easy for them to collude with INEC to know in which areas we are strong so they can scuttle the distribution of the permanent voters’ cards there and, during the elections, to also deprive such areas of voting materials,” the party alleged.
Owing to the invasion of its data centre, APC said it had been forced to suspend its membership registration following the damage done to the equipment in Lagos by the invading force of the DSS and Nigerian Navy.
“’The viciousness and barbarism of the attack on the data centre and the arrest of 26 innocent workers, which put a lie to the DSS claim, have disrupted and corrupted the continuous offline and online membership registration across the country.
‘”The over 50 security men who invaded our offices not only vandalised the offices, they pulled out and carted away the server and computer systems. Their activities have therefore affected the process of online/offline registration and data capture of APC members across the country, hence we are left with no choice than to suspend the process,” the party said.
It reiterated its earlier call for an independent inquiry into the invasion, which it said had “taken the impunity of the Jonathan administration to its worst level yet”, with a view to determining the identity of those who sent the invading force and meting out the necessary punishment to them, irrespective of their political status.
“It is important to get to the bottom of this unprecedented action in the political history of our nation, especially because it may have compromised the 2015 general election,” APC said, calling on all Nigerians as well as the country’s international partners to condemn the primitive action.
But as APC decried the invasion of its Lagos data centre, the ruling PDP yesterday alleged that the cloning of PVCs by the main opposition party was an attempt by the APC to truncate democracy in Nigeria and vowed to resist it.
The party said the weekend’s discovery by the DSS was shocking to the effect that the opposition APC had engaged in the cloning of PVCs and using cloners to hack into INEC’s data base to compromise the 2015 general election.
PDP said in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary Olisa Metuh that this discovery at the APC office in Lagos was a clear confirmation of its stand and fears expressed by well-meaning Nigerians of APC’s criminal desperation, lust for power, plot to cause confusion and truncate democracy in Nigeria.
“Indeed, Nigerians now know on what strength the APC, a party that clearly lacks genuine followership among the citizens, has been boasting that they will emerge victorious in the 2015 general election and has been threatening to form a parallel government if they lose.
“Since its formation, the APC has been accusing everyone including INEC and security agencies of working to rig the 2015 elections in favour of the PDP. Little did Nigerians realise that such were smoke screens designed to divert attention from their heinous and unpatriotic plots.
“We believe that the APC, in its desperate attempt to grab power by all means, has already established cloning and hacking centres in all the 36 states of the federation to actualise their dubious machination to subvert the will of the people.
“We insist that the cloning of INEC PVCs is criminal and strikes at the very heart of our electoral process. We share the fear of a majority of Nigerians that the APC may have already started cloning ballot papers and other election documents.
“It is in this regard that we call on all Nigerians and lovers of democracy across the world to note the desperation of the APC. Our citizens must therefore remain vigilant and resist any attempt by the APC to steal their mandate.
“We also call on security agencies to fully investigate this atrocious cloning and ensure that whoever is found culpable faces the full weight of the law,” the PDP stated.
It said this development also placed an additional burden on INEC, which must now work to prove that it is not complicit in this heinous crime against the Nigerian state and its people.
PDP stressed that Nigerians had made huge sacrifices for the “democracy we enjoy today and Nigerians cannot afford to surrender it on the altar of blind ambition and the narrow interest of the APC”.
In another incident, the Area K of the Lagos State Police Command said yesterday it recovered about 1,700 PVCs from a bush at the Seme area at the weekend.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the command, Kenneth Nwosu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the PVCs had been abandoned.
He said: “Policemen attached to Area K Command Morogbo, recovered about 1,700 permanent voters’ cards abandoned by unknown persons in a bush at Seme Area.
“The PVCs were suspected to have been stolen from members of staff of INEC at the Ajeromi area of Lagos.”
Already, he said investigations were ongoing by the personnel of the Area K Command to unravel the culprits behind the act.