Olusola Fabiyi, Leke Baiyewu and Chidiebube Okeoma
The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has sent a delegation to the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawan Daura, over the spate of arrest of its members, Saturday PUNCH learnt in Abuja on Friday.
The membership of the delegation, which is being shrouded in secrecy, is said to comprise top leaders of the party and some state governors.
The decision to send the delegation to the head of the top security outfit was taken at a meeting held by the leadership of the party with members of the Ekiti State Governorship Campaign Committee in Abuja on Thursday night.
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Saturday PUNCH learnt that the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, was among those at the meeting.
Secondus, who confirmed the sending of the delegation to Daura, however, refused to give details of those in the delegation and issues slated for discussion.
He said, “We have sent a delegation comprising our governors to the DG of DSS over the spate of arrests of our members.
“Yesterday, they picked up a former Governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam, and today, they arrested Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe. We can’t reach them and even their loyalists can’t reach them.
“Now, the clampdown has indeed started. But how many of our members are they going to arrest, just because they (the government and the ruling party) are afraid of losing the (2019 presidential) election?
“Maybe they will arrest all of us and put us into jail. Nigerians are watching and the international community is also watching.”
Meanwhile, the party has asked the DSS to release the senator representing Abia South in the Senate, Abaribe, immediately.
Abaribe was arrested in Abuja on Friday at a popular hotel located at Maitama District.
The DSS had yet to issue any statement on the reason behind the arrest.
But in a statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja on Friday, the PDP lamented that the “Gestapo-styled” arrest of Abaribe has further confirmed its earlier alarm that the Federal Government had commenced what it described as a clampdown on the opposition and perceived opponents of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 re-election bid.
Ologbondiyan said, “The clampdown on Senator Abaribe is feared to be in furtherance of the moves to intimidate and emasculate members of the National Assembly who are known for their outspokenness against the constitutional violations and misrule of the APC administration.
“The PDP notes that the Federal Government has given no reasons for the arrest and detention of Senator Abaribe, who has been kept incommunicado without access to his lawyers and associates.
“The party also notes the apprehension of Nigerians following numerous alleged plots by the Federal Government to frame other lawmakers, including the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, as well as Senators Dino Melaye and Shehu Sani.”
Ologbondiyan asked the DSS to immediately declare Abaribe’s whereabouts, as well as the charge against him.
In a related development, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra has accused the DSS of arresting Abaribe because he signed Nnamdi Kanu’s bail bond.
A release issued by MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu, on Friday,equally accused the DSS of clamping down on those who were opposed to Buhari’s second term bid, especially Christians.
“We know that his (Abaribe’s) humiliating arrest was because he signed the bail bond of Nnamdi Kanu and his eloquence in defending the cause and interest of Ndigbo and Christians in general,” the statement read in part.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that operatives of the Department of State Services on Friday night laid siege to Abaribe’s residence at Apo Legislative Quarters, Abuja.
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The operatives arrived at the Zone E end of the estate and cordoned off the street around 5:45pm.
A source told our correspondent that the operatives later raided the building after a search warrant was presented to Abaribe. The raid was still ongoing as of 9pm, according to a source.
The source said, “They are still here (at 8:54pm) raiding the house. They produced a search warrant and the feelers we are getting is that they are in search of exhibits traceable to the (proscribed) IPOB. We also learnt that his comment that N30bn was smuggled into the 2018 budget by some officials in the executive ruffled some feathers and embarrassed the government.”
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