Stop harassing us, PDP govs tell DSS

Thirteen governors of the Peoples Democratic Party have said there is a need for the country to have a virile opposition.

The governors whose political party ruled the country for 16 years before it was defeated by the All Progressives Congress in the last general election, therefore, called on the men of the Department of State Services to stop disturbing members of their party.

Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, who is also the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, spoke on behalf of his colleagues after their meeting in Abuja on Wednesday night.

Mimiko said the PDP governors were worried by the activities of the men of the Department of State Services, which he said were aimed at stiffing the opposition.

He described the alleged meddlesomeness of the security agency in electoral matters, which he said were capable of affecting the fortunes of the PDP at election petition tribunals, as worrisome and unacceptable.

Reading from the communiqué released after the meeting, Mimiko said, “The forum condemns in very strong terms the alleged worrisome meddlesomeness of the Department of State Services in Election Tribunal matters especially in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Abia states.

“It is against the spirit, ethos, values and fundamental tenets of democratic norms and tradition; more so with the existence of the Electoral Act and the constitution.

“The forum is worried, alarmed and shocked by this development. A situation where officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission in these three states, (all PDP states) are daily being arrested, detained and questioned on election-related offences, even when the cases are ongoing at the tribunals, spells doom and poses imminent danger to our fledgling democracy.”He said that the alleged interference was an attempt to stifle the opposition, adding that this action was most unacceptable.

“We insist that the trend be reversed. No democracy survives without a viable opposition in any part of the world,” he added.

Mimiko said that INEC was supposed to be an independent commission and that its officials ought to be shielded from partisanship, especially at a time when the dust raised by the alleged APC membership of the DG of the SSS, Mr. Lawal Musa Daura, had yet to be settled. He alleged that there were clear cases of underage voters in some states and expressed his worry that the DSS did not investigate a single person or made any arrest in those states.

The governor also alleged that “even in a clear case where money paid was traced to the bank account of a State Resident Electoral Commissioner, the DSS has yet to order investigation into the matter.”

He advised the DSS to pre-occupy itself with the task of ensuring internal security and not electoral matters.

At the enlarged meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum later in the evening which ended in the early hours of Thursday, the governor agreed to meet with the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon.

The meeting, according to the Chairman of the Forum, who is also the Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Yari, would discuss among others, the Sustainable Development Goals, the successor programme to the Millennium Development Goals and the envisaged role of state governors, as critical stakeholders in its implementation.

He said the meeting would be a follow-up to his (UN Chief’s meeting) May 2011 meeting with the Forum.

He also said that sequel to the presentation made by the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited and exhaustive discussions on the operations of the National Integrated Power Project, the Forum resolved to appeal for a more comprehensive power sector policy and strategy, with a view to achieving a holistic solution to the power situation in the country.