The Coalition of United Political Parties has said it stands firmly by its letter to President Muhammadu Buhari asking him to investigate certain politicians in Kogi State over an alleged attempt to cause mayhem in a bid to disrupt the forthcoming elections.
The Coalition made its position known in a statement jointly signed by 19 of its leaders, made available on Thursday.
Rising from a crucial meeting of its Steering Committee members in Abuja on Thursday, members passed a resolution to distance the Coalition from a statement said to have been signed by one of its spokespersons against collective decision.
The leaders of the Coalition frowned at what they described as “wicked blackmail” of Ikenga Ugochinyere by a senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Kogi State in the February 25, elections, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan, which they said “pressured Ikenga to make the release precipitately”.
They insisted that security agencies should investigate allegations that militants were imported to join Akpoti-Uduaghan’s rally last year, among others, adding that their intervention was a patriotic one.
“The Coalition stands by everything written in that petition, including a demand for the investigation of the allegation making the rounds in Kogi State of importing Niger Delta Militants to join Mrs Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan’s rally last year in Kogi State,” the CUPP leaders said.
They pointed out that the CUPP had its hierarchy of leadership and should not be confused as the sole ownership of a single individual, saying: “A letter signed by bonafide leaders and members of the Coalition cannot in anyway be referred to as fake.”
The CUPP leaders had, in a letter, titled: “URGENT NEED TO ARREST AND PROSECUTE POLITICNAIJAONPOINT TRYING TO SCUTTLE THE 2023 ELECTIONS BY BLACKMAILING OUR MILITARY,” signed by 15 leaders, singled out Akpoti-Uduaghan as the alleged “number one promoter of insecurity” in the state and urged the President to direct security agencies to act on several petitions against her.
According to the leaders of the opposition force, their intervention was necessary in view of the implications of unfounded allegations against the Nigerian military at a time the citizens should give them all the support to tame insecurity in the country at large.
They were referring to a petition to the President by a law firm: Demaki and Demaki Legal Practitioners, which they described as a sponsored blackmail by “a desperate politician or a group of disgruntled politicians hellbent on compromising the security of the state prior to the coming elections in order to give free reins to terror and thuggery in their favour”.
The CUPP frowned at the misinformation reportedly contained in the statement said to have been signed by Ugochinyere, adding that no member whose signature was on the CUPP petition to the President denied appending his signature.
The statement, titled: “WE STAND BY OUR PETITION TO PRESIDENT BUHARI ON POLITICNAIJAONPOINT BLACKMAILING OUR MILITARY – CUPP LEADERS,” reads in full: “While a recent incident of miscommunication in the CUPP is being positively resolved, there is also the need for the Coalition to quickly address some matters arising.
“Due to a recent development in which a Press Release was made by one of the Coalition’s Spokespersons, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, dissociating himself and the Coalition from the petition submitted by some leaders and members of the Coalition, we have deemed it fit to make clarifications about certain issues raised in that Press Release.
“Arising from a crucial meeting of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) today 2nd February, 2023 in Abuja, the Coalition’s leadership, including most members of the Steering Committee, passed a resolution affirming the position of the Coalition with regard to the Petition submitted to the presidency against politicians who have the tendency to undermine the smooth conduct of the scheduled 2023 general elections no matter which Party they belong to.
“We stand firmly by our demand for the prompt investigation and prosecution of any politician who tries by any means to cause a disruption of the election whether by blackmail, fake news or overheating the polity through dangerous propaganda by relevant Security Agencies.
“All the signatories reaffirm that we actually signed the petition in response to an earlier petition by a law firm named DEMAKI & DEMAKI in which an allegation of bribery was made against the Chief of Naval Staff. We stand by our point that our military should not be dragged into the murky waters of politics by blackmail.
“The Coalition stands by everything written in that petition, including a demand for the investigation of the allegation making the rounds in Kogi State of importing Niger Delta Militants to join Mrs Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan’s rally last year in Kogi State.
“There is no crime in calling for the investigation of an allegation.
“All the signatories to the petition are bonafide leaders and members of CUPP and we reconfirm that none of us denied signing the petition as erroneously insinuated in the said Press Release.
“We take great exception to being labelled APC agents because we are not. The author of that Press Release did not confirm from all the signatories to get their views before making the Release as to be properly briefed.
“Mr Ikenga was undergoing a period of mourning at the time the petition was written and couldn’t have been involved in conceiving the petition. That he was singled out by Mrs Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan for personal attack on social media was tantamount to a wicked blackmail which was what pressured Ikenga to make that release precipitately.
“The Coalition has hierarchy of leadership and should not be confused as the sole ownership of a single individual.
“A letter signed by bonafide leaders and members of the Coalition cannot in anyway be referred to as fake, especially when none denied signing it. If their names had been attached without their consent and signatures forged, it was these individuals who would have raised objections and direct one of the Coalition’s Spokespersons to make a Press Release on the matter immediately and not the other way around. Most of us were not consulted before that Press Release was issued.
“The Coalition remains resolute and better repositioned to check criminal actions that have the tendency to undermine our electoral process and consequently derail our nascent democracy.
“We condemn the deployment of thugs and armed criminals by desperate politicians whoever they may be. It’s not about one or two politicians. We demand that those found wanting in these crimes against the Nigerian State should be properly investigated and prosecuted, including those planning to rig the 2023 elections. Rigging of election is not limited to election day.
“Campaigns of blackmailing, negative propaganda against opposing candidates or government and destroying campaign materials of opponents are all threats to our democracy.
“We the members of the Coalition remain firm and resolute in our demand for a swift investigation and prosecution of individuals, including politicians who want to destabilise our current democratic process.
It is a patriotic intervention.”
Meanwhile, Demaki & Demaki on Wednesday clarified its petition to President Buhari on the Commander of the Nigerian Navy Special Forces in Kogi State, Commander Uchendu Nicholas Akalezi.
It said: “There was never a place in our petition to the President or the Chief of Naval Staff where the Nigeria Military was berated; rather we informed Mr. President that the actions of Navy Commander Uchendu Akalezi were denting the image of the disciplined members of the Nigeria Armed Forces. We refer members of the public to paragraph 12 of our open petition to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 29th day of January, 2023.”
In the fresh petition to President Buhari, the law firm said its earlier petitions stated the names of the alleged victims of Commander Akalezi, the dates and time these persons were reportedly kidnapped, killed and molested by him.
Entitled: “The urgent need to arrest and prosecute politicians trying to scuttle the 2023 elections by blackmailing our military,” the legal firm said those who signed the said petition by the Coalition of the United Political Parties to President Buhari do not know the meaning of a petition and the difference between a petition and blackmail.”