Presidency warns Peter Obi not to create tension with ‘silent arrest’ comments

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The presidency has dismissed remarks by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, that some of his supporters have been “silently” arrested by security agencies.

There were reports last week on social media that Department of State Services (DSS) officials allegedly arrested Joseph Onuorah who flew in from France to attend the October 1 rally organised by Obi’s supporters in Lagos.

Subsequently, Obi condemned the alleged incident in a series of tweets.

But a source at the state house said Onuorah was only “intercepted” at the Lagos airport for a matter that concerned him and not because he is an Obi supporter.

“The democratic process in Nigeria is free and fair and all candidates – whether those from the established parties or minor ones – have the absolute constitutional and God-given right to campaign openly and without hindrance,” the insider said.

“What is also the case is that anyone who breaks the law – whether they are a supporter of the government party or opposition – must be held to account for their actions.

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“If, for instance, opposition parties’ supporters damage private property in the course of a campaign, march or rally, should they not be held to account if, for instance, governing party supporters defame an opposition figure should they not be held to account? Of course, they all should.

“What is however known about a Labour Party member who was bailed by the party’s chairman in Lagos State is that on 30/09/22, one Joseph Chimezie ONUORAH, Passport No: A12553760, arrived Nigeria aboard Air France.

“He was intercepted about 22.30 hours at the E wing of MMIA Lagos by the Nigerian Immigration Service, at the instance of the Lagos State Police Investigation Bureau for an investigation that concerned him.”

The source said the claim was baseless and that statements of fiction are not good for democracy.

“Accusations that individuals have been ‘silently arrested’ – and no one, frankly, knows what that description is supposed to mean – is an example of a statement made by a politician without any known foundation with the express intention of raising the temperature in this electoral contest,” the insider said.

The source added that politicians have a duty to “refrain from making statements or accusations that could lead to the raising of tensions and make the prospect of aggressive physical behaviour more likely”.

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