Atiku accuses Buhari of opponents’ persecution and intimidation

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The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of persecuting and intimidating his opponents ahead of the general elections.

He made the allegation in response to comments allegedly made by the President about giving a level playing ground to his opponents.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, claimed that the President had said that he would give his opponents in the general elections a level playing ground which the PDP had denied him.

“I am prepared to give the opposition the opportunities I was not given in the past,’’ he was quoted as saying, while addressing a delegation from the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute.

In defence, however, Atiku said President Buhari ran for the office of the President in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 without any interruption by the PDP.

“Not once during those intervening years was he arrested, molested or persecuted in any way, shape or form,” the statement read.

It further explained that it offered support to him where necessary, including when he was attacked by Boko Haram insurgents in 2014.

Rather than reciprocate, the “good treatment”, shown to him by the PDP, Atiku alleged that Buhari has rather resorted to persecuting and intimidating opponents.

He said, “Since coming to office, President Muhammadu has refused to reciprocate the good treatment meted out to him by the PDP and has instead persecuted, harassed and attempted to intimidate his likely opponents, even before they became candidates.

“Their businesses have been affected with the government either pulling out of or attempting to pull out of commercial contractual agreements freely entered into between government agencies and businesses owned or partly owned by perceived presidential opponents”.

It also alleged that opposition presidential candidates who participated in peaceful marches have been arrested and are currently facing trial, whereas, he (President Buhari) “participated in several protests and marches, including the Occupy Nigeria movement and the 2014 APC march in Abuja and was not arrested or persecuted by the PDP”.

Among other things, it alleged the freezing of accounts belonging to members of the opposition, the President’s refusal to sign the amended Electoral Act, as well as an attempt to foist his niece as the Chairman of INEC.

According to the statement, these and other actions completely contradict his assurances of providing a level playing ground for opponents.

The PDP candidate, therefore, called on the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute not to be “hoodwinked” by what he described as “the President’s deceptive words, but to focus on what cannot lie – the evidence”.

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