Former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, has taken the Federal Government to task for allegedly denying him the use of the Eagle Square, Abuja, for his presidential declaration scheduled to take place today.
He said the decision to deny him access, which he had duly secured and paid for, was a clear indication that the APC-led government was jittery.
Kwankwaso, who recently defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the All Progressives Congress (APC) was also reportedly denied the use of the Old Parade Ground also in the Federal Capital Territory, even as his team has begun shopping for another.
Kwankwaso’s presidential campaign organisation disclosed that it had previously been granted permission to the Eagle Square by the Integrated Facility Management Services Limited, manager of the property on behalf of the Federal Government, after it had made the required payment.
A letter by the manager of the company, Usman Mukhtar Raji, showed that approval was given for the use of the property and the campaign organisation was instructed to pay N2,217,600 into the Fidelity Bank account of the Integrated Facility Management Services Limited.
But barely 24 hours to the presidential declaration date, Kwankwaso’s campaign organisation received another letter signed by Raji and dated August 27, 2018, reversing itself in respect of approval granted the organisers of the presidential declaration.
The revocation letter read: “We are sorry to inform you that the event can no longer hold on the said date because it is a political event and the 29th of August, 2018, happens to be a work day, as it would disrupt the usual work flow of the federal Secretariat. We apologise for the oversight on our part to note the date in relation to the nature of the event. We regret every inconvenience caused by this.”
But reacting, the Principal Private Secretary to Senator Kwankwaso, Muhammad Inuwa Ali, said in a statement that the action purportedly masterminded by the Federal Government showed that the APC was jittery about the ex-governor’s presidential ambition.
“We see the development as a handiwork of the government in power who will not see anything good in growing our fledgling democracy as no level playing field has been created to allow for viable opposition in the country. Even at that, earlier Tuesday morning, the Abuja International Conference and Eagle Square, managed by the Integrated Facility Management Services Ltd refused us access to inspect the premises demanding us to present a police permit, when actual approval for the use of the Eagle Square has been sought and paid for more than one week to the said declaration. The above development will, in no way, dampen our morale to go ahead with the declaration as it will only embolden us to legally pursue our fundamental right to freedom of movement and association.”
The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), a coalition of no less than 38 political parties, also flayed the Federal Government.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, the CUPP spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinyere, alleged that the police had also sealed up the Eagle Square ahead of today’s declaration.
“We want to inform you that a few hours ago, the APC-led Federal Government working with the police blocked the venue of the scheduled declaration of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso…
“We want to inform Nigerians that this act of growing culture of impunity and intimidation has got to a very dangerous level with the decision of the police to seal the venue of somebody who wants to be president. The Eagle Square was built for such events and people who want to use it pay for it.
“The venue was paid for and we were just informed a few hours ago after the police told them they could not use the venue because they cannot manage the crowd that is going to come.”
But the police swiftly denied the allegation. Jimoh Moshood, police spokesman said security operatives were merely deployed in the facility like every other public place in the nation’s capital.
“Police did not seal off any venue. We have deployment to every public place in Abuja. If you go to Unity Fountain, there is police deployment there. The deployment is to ensure security. The Eagle Square is a private enterprise,” he defended.