A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Olisa Agbakoba, yesterday, declared that there was no constitutional provision for an interim government in Nigeria, and therefore dismissed the idea as total hogwash.
Agbakoba’s comments come a day after the Department of State Services (DSS) alerted the nation to plots by some political actors to bring an interim government into power and stop Bola Tinubu from being inaugurated as President of Nigeria.
This is as the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, has dismissed the idea of an interim government as not feasible on the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying those pushing it were at best daydreaming.
In the same breath, the Campaign for Democracy (CD), has condemned the alleged moves by some people to create crises that would lead to the setting up an interim government on May 29, saying it was unwarranted, unnecessary and subversive.
But a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, has described the alarm raised by the DSS as fake and an attempt to arrest the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and his Labour Party (LP) counterpart, Peter Obi, before the May 29.
However, in a communique, Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who declared that saying those behind the plot must be handed the “gravest possible consequences” for their treasonable intent, also said though the general election might have held under the most challenging circumstance, still, a president-elect has emerged and that fact must be respected and accepted.
The SAN called on all Nigerians to reject the alleged move, which he termed as “nonsense” adding that citizens must respect the nation’s Constitution, “which has no provision for interim arrangements.”
Agbakoba was of the opinion that if the other presidential candidates had accepted the democratic process by lodging petitions before the courts, then, it is very difficult to understand upon what basis anyone considered that an interim government was a viable and legal alternative.
His words: “It is shocking to learn from the Department of State Services that secret plans are underway to undermine Nigeria’s democratic process and transition, by arrangements of what is described as an interim government. This will be a major set-back and we must all resist.
“I suggest that the gravest possible consequences must be applied to all who are associated with this treasonable intent. The general election has held, albeit under the most challenging circumstance.
“But a president-elect has emerged and we must respect and accept this as fact, at least, for now. All leading Presidential candidates have approached the courts with grounds of complaint concerning what they consider as electoral irregularities.
“If the presidential candidates have accepted the democratic process by lodging petitions before the courts, then it is very difficult to understand upon what basis anyone considers that an interim government is a viable and legal alternative. We must all reject this nonsense and respect our Constitution, which has no provision for interim arrangements.
“As the President-elect is sworn into office on May 29, the judicial process will ultimately render a decision. As Nigerians, we must turn to the courts to render a decision on the petitions before them. The judicial process will certainly carry a huge responsibility in the process of democratic consolidation.”
Lalong, while speaking with newsmen after meeting with President Buhari at the State House, Abuja, said, “Nigerians will always say, ‘God forbid.’ Not under the administration of President Buhari, who has been saying every time that ‘I believe in democracy. I believe that after my tenure, I want to go and rest.’
“He said it today that ‘I’m going back to Daura,’ and I told him that some of us will still disturb you in Daura. This man has worked very well for democracy.
“So, those who are still talking about it (interim government), I will say they are just dreaming. They are just daydreaming. By the grace of God, Buhari is going to bring a successor and that successor is already Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
The Plateau governor said he was at the State House to formally invite the president to Plateau to inaugurate his administration’s legacy projects.
According to him, “They (the projects) include six model hospitals, six Model Secondary Schools and six model primary schools. Apart from that, I have completed many of the abandoned projects left by my predecessors.
“One of them is a giant British-American overhead bridge, the best High Court in the north is in Jos now, awaiting commissioning. I’m very proud of that as a lawyer.”
Similarly, the CD, in a statement by its General Secretary, Ifeanyi Odili, yesterday, described the plot as unwarranted, unnecessary and subversive, urging the federal government not to tolerated the proponents of such an idea.
Part of the statement read: “It is mutinous to call for interim government at this stage, when an election has just been conducted and a candidate has emerged.
“In a democratic setting, if there are aggrieved persons, who have lost out in an election, such person(s) should seek legal redress in a competent courts of law or tribunals. Calling for an interim system, which is alien to our constitution is tantamount to treason and felony.
The group said while it understood the feelings of some tribes, it also agreed that the 2023 presidential election process was marred with a lot of irregularities and criminal breaches of the electoral laws.
“However, we do not see interim government as a reasonable solution, rather, it sees it as subversive: an attempt to destroy the entire nation’s democratic principles.
“Any person or group of persons advocating interim arrangement at this stage of our nation building should be seen as enemies of Nigeria as such calls are unguarded, unreasonable which can only come from unpatriotic minds. We cannot afford a replay of June 12, when we are having a lot of security challenges,” it said.
But Frank, also in a statement, said the DSS must stop its method of intimidating Nigerians, especially politicians, whenever they wanted to exercise their constitutional rights.
He therefore, maintained that the DSS’ purported intelligence was fake and a plot to crack down on protesters and arrest opposition political leaders demonstrating against the “rigged” 2023 presidential election and to massively arrest opposition politicians in the country.
Frank was of the opinion that the DSS ought to have used the same intelligence to stop abuse and killing of Nigerians by terrorist groups over the years.
“Where was their intelligence when the Independent National Electoral Commission and Mahmood Yakubu were compromised to rig the 2023 general election?
“We have credible information that the DSS issued the statement in preparation for its planned disruption of ongoing protest by Nigerians, who are demonstrating peacefully to demand for justice and the restoration of their stolen mandate,” he said.
Frank pointed out that the only time the DSS is seen coming up to talk about intelligence was whenever Nigerians were preparing to either protest against obnoxious government policies, rules, human rights abuses or carrying out lawful political activities.
According to him, “Nigerians have been under siege by bandits, kidnappers and terrorists for a long time now, but the DSS never gave intelligence to foil kidnapping, heinous attacks, maiming and killings of innocent Nigerians.”
“In fact, we dare the DSS or any other security outfit in the country to arrest Atiku and Obi before May 29 and see the wrath of Nigerians,” he said
He therefore, called on the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union to immediately call on the Nigerian government to allow Nigerians to exercise their democratic rights, which is to ensure that the “stolen mandate” of the Nigerian people was restored through peaceful protests and the judicial process.