Officials of the Department of State Services, DSS, have arrested the Director, Media and Publicity, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, campaign council in Kaduna State, Mr. Ben Bako, who was whisked away by operatives from Kaduna to Abuja about 11pm on Saturday after honouring an invitation to the DSS office earlier in the day.
The former Commissioner for Information in the state was seen in a recent campaign video asking supporters to deal with those who betray the PDP in the southern part of Kaduna State.
Bako, who is the director of the media committee of the governorship candidate Isa Ashiru’s campaign organisation, was said to have handed down the threat while speaking in Hausa at a rally in Kafanchan, in Southern Kaduna.
At a press briefing in Kaduna yesterday, the Deputy Director, Ashiru Campaign Organisation, Comrade Danjuma Sarki, said the State Director of DSS, Ahmadu Idris, placed a curious invitation to Bako before he was arrested and whisked away to Abuja .
His words, “As a law-abiding citizen with nothing to fear or hide, Mr. Bako dutifully honoured the invitation of the DSS after informing many members of the campaign team.
“We are very much aware that long before now, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State, under the leadership of Governor Nasir el-Rufai, had penned down a long list of influential PDP members in the state for intimidation, arrest and detention over spurious charges a few days to the general elections,” Sarki alleged.
Among those listed for arrest, according to him, are Makarfi, who is also a former national chairman, Caretaker Committee of the PDP; former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero; chairman of the state PDP, Chief Felix Hyat; former chairman, Alhaji Yahaya Yaro Makama; and state secretary of the party, Wusono.
“We are also aware that several youth leaders of the PDP in the state, women leaders and staunch supporters, including some public commentators, are also to be locked up shortly before the elections.
“The plan is to lock away 150 leaders of the PDP at the state and local government areas on trumped up charges of hate speech during campaign rallies. The intention is to send fears and weaken the spirit of the campaign or to stir crisis in the state.
“But unknown to Governor El-Rufai and the DSS, the more he arrests us, the stronger the PDP gets. It is too late to reverse the determination of the traumatised people of Kaduna State. They have been fleeced by a narrow group of friends and family under a government of tyranny, propaganda, bigotry, disunity and backwardness,” he said.
Sarki, who condemned Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s recent threat to local and global peace, said: “If anyone deserves impeachment, arrest or arraignment for hate speech over the years, it has to be El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
“The world today is still outraged by the murderous threat of the governor to international election observers, when he vowed that should any of them intervene contrary to the designs and expectation of the APC during and after elections, the person would return home in body bags.
“Curiously the presidency came out in full support of that crude, barbaric bravado which carries a costly diplomatic price, should any harm befall any international election observer in the course of their legitimate duty in Nigeria during the polls.”
The Kaduna PDP maintained that “from El-Rufai’s call for violent assault to the three senators in the state; his denigrating reference to the pope over his rejection by the electorate in Kaduna State and his latest threat, he remains the greatest albatross to local and international peace in Nigeria today. Not Mr. Ben Bako of the PDP.”
The opposition party said it would not be drawn into any violent conflict no matter the provocation.
“Let us reiterate for the records: The PDP in Kaduna State is determined and totally committed to violence-free polls. No member or supporter of the PDP must be involved in breaking the law. In the same manner, the PDP is serious about ensuring that every vote cast in the state counts.
“We are calling on our members and supporters to ensure that they come out in large numbers and vote. They must ensure that their votes are counted, recorded and securely moved to the next collation centre. On this, we are ready to use every legal means to protect our franchise. No amount of intimidation, threat, blackmail and illegal use of state force will deter us from this aspect.”
The Kaduna PDP demanded the release of Bako from detection, stressing that “the DSS has become compromised and partisan in Kaduna and we say no to such development. We believe that the Kaduna State Director of the DSS, Ahmadu Idris, will not be neutral in the 2019 general elections and we call for his immediate redeployment. We also call on both local and international observers to take special interest in elections in Kaduna State elections.”