The Defence Headquarters on Thursday described as unconstitutional calls for an interim government after the emergence of the president-elect.
The Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Musa Danmadami, stated this in Abuja during the biweekly update with journalists on Armed Forces of Nigeria operations.
He condemned the clamour for an interim government by those unhappy with the outcome of the presidential election, stating that the ING was illegal and unconstitutional.
The Peoples Democratic Party, the All Progressives Congress and the New Nigeria Peoples Party supported the military’s pledge to defend the constitution.
Some candidates who lost the election and their supporters had been agitating for the interim government, hinging their demand on the reported malpractices recorded during the presidential election which was won by the APC standard bearer, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Sequel to the protests and alleged inflammatory statements by the proponents of the interim government, the Department of State Services alerted the nation to a plot by unnamed politicians to scuttle the transition and install an interim government.
The secret police said it was monitoring the plotters and warned them against fomenting any crisis in the country.
But responding to questions from journalists in Abuja, during the biweekly update on Armed Forces of Nigeria operations, Danmadami maintained that the Independent National Electoral Commission had conducted elections and declared a president-elect.
The DHQ spokesman said, “On the issue of an interim government, it is rather unfortunate; an election has been conducted and INEC, which is mandated, has announced a president-elect. It is not our responsibility to speak on that issue but I know that several calls have been made by the Presidency that there is nothing like an interim national government.
“So I think people were just trying to be mischievous. It is unconstitutional and all of us know that the Constitution does not provide for an Interim National Government; that is the point the Presidency has been hammering on and that is our stand because that is what the Constitution says. It is unconstitutional, so, anything unconstitutional, as far as I’m concerned, is not applicable.”
Speaking on the security situation across the country, he attributed the recent spike in kidnappings to the reversal of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s cashless policy.
He also noted that ending kidnapping required a whole-of-a-society and government approach.
He, however, added that the military was working round the clock to tame the menace of kidnapping and other criminal activities.
PDP backs military
Commenting on the military position on the election, the PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said the party agreed with the DHQ.
“Yes, we agree with the military. Interim National Government is unconstitutional and the PDP as a law-abiding party will always be on the side of the law.
“Those pushing for an interim government do not wish this country well. The call is unpatriotic and condemnable,” he said.
Also speaking, Ladipo Johnson, spokesman for the NNPP Presidential Campaign Council, called on security agents to unravel those plotting to plunge the country into a constitutional crisis with their demand for an Interim National Government.
“The NNPP frowns upon any attempt to undermine our constitution. The Interim National Government or whatever you called it has no place in our constitution. But aren’t we tired of talking in the void? We thought by now the security agents would have arrested promoters of this evil agenda. They should be arrested and made to face the wrath of the law,” he said.
Reacting, the ruling APC applauded the military for staying true to its promise to protect the Constitution and the country’s unity.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, the APC Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, warned that those demanding an interim government were inadvertently calling for a coup d’etat, which attracts capital punishment in Nigeria.
He said, “What the Defence Headquarters is saying is reiterating the supremacy of the Federal Constitution. And it is the Constitution that recognises an elected regime. It also recognises INEC as an electoral umpire. It is the same Constitution that says anything contrary to the recognition of INEC with regard to elections is akin to disagreeing with the Constitution.
“So, anyone who comes with something that is alien in the name of an interim government or whatever name not recognised by the Constitution is asking for the overthrow of this Constitution.
‘’Now, the military cannot under any guise support the overthrow of a legitimately elected government. To do that is to call for a coup d’etat and calling for a coup is treason which attracts the death penalty.
“Therefore, in agreeing with INEC’s position, the DHQ is directly agreeing with the Constitution and saying that they remain subservient and submissive to the will of the people as provided for in the Constitution.”
But the Chief Spokesman for the Labour Party Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, told The PUNCH that the party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, had not done anything contrary to the Constitution by going to court to reclaim their mandate.
“The military is not the court of law. They are making their assertion on what they think they know. The military is a respected institution. So, I know that they will respect the position of the law when pronouncements are being made.
“We at LP are law-abiding citizens who have taken their case to court for redress. What we are doing is taking back our mandate that was illegally given to somebody in a legal process.
“All that we have done is to follow the due process of what has been done in our Constitution in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. For instance, when the Nigerian people and we decided to go on a peaceful protest, it is our own right. Therefore, we have not done anything contrary to the Constitution of Nigeria,” he stated.
Obi’s aide warns
Meanwhile, Obi’s media aide, Tai Obasi, urged the military to stick to its defence role instead of striving to interpret the Constitution for Nigerians.
While warning that the LP would not succumb to subtle intimidation and bullying, Obasi disclosed that the party and Obi would not relent until they reclaimed their ‘stolen mandate.’
He stated, “Everybody seems to be politically inclined now. It is a system to do whatever is necessary to assist whoever they want to assist in swearing-in as president for the next four years. It is not in the position of the military to define our constitution or whatever it says.
“Their (Military) duty is defence. They are meant to intervene whenever they are called upon. It is not for them to start telling us what they think is in the Constitution. The Constitution shall be defended by the court when there is a logjam. Not by any other person or institution.
‘’The LP has dutifully and obediently gone to court. It is left for INEC, Senator Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima to respond and the court processes to start.’’
Warning the military against dabbling in politics, Obasi added, “The military should therefore not jump the gun. It will be very unfortunate and unfair for the DHQ to start releasing intimidating statements. If the target is to intimidate and bully people whose only lawful route to recover their stolen mandate, it won’t work.’’
Speaking on the issue, the Ekiti Council of Elders on Thursday cautioned Nigerians against activities capable of causing anarchy and plunging the country into crisis and chaos.
The council’s President, Prof Joseph Oluwasanmi and General Secretary, Niyi Ajibulu, condemned the alleged extra-judicial activities of some political parties and unpatriotic elements since the conclusion of the presidential election, which he said were worrisome.
The duo, in a statement in Ado Ekiti after the council’s monthly plenary titled, ‘Call for interim national government unconstitutional’, urged all concerned not to allow tribal, sectional or individual interests to undermine the corporate existence of the country.
However, a former deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Prince Diran Odeyemi, said the claim by the DSS that some people wanted to foist an interim government on the country was suspicious.
Odeyemi, while speaking with newsmen in Osogbo on Thursday, expressed concern that more than a week after the claim, the security agency had not made any arrest or exposed those behind the plot.
He also said such a claim coming from the DSS might be a plot by the presidency.
He argued that politicians in the country had shown that they wanted democracy to continue, hence the resort to litigation by those who lost the election.
“If almost a week after which they made that statement, we have not heard of any arrest, or any concrete investigation thereafter, I will advise them not to turn themselves to a political party. Nigerians should watch the presidency.’’
On his part, a former Governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, berated the proponents of the Interim National Government saying that it was treasonable and an affront to the sensibility of Nigerians.
Nnamani stated that ING was absurd and had no place in modern-day democratic rule submitting that those behind the plot are enemies of Nigeria