The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has described Tuesday’s arrest of business mogul and owner of Africa Independent Television, AIT, Raymond Dokpesi, as a ploy by the ruling All Progressives Party, APC, to cow and silence the opposition in the country.
A statement issued in Abuja by Mr Olisa Metuh, PDP National Publicity Secretary, said the party was privy to the governing APC’s plan to arrest more notable PDP leaders using the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
It claimed that Dokpesi was a victim of political persecution because of his association with PDP, adding that the military style of pronouncement of guilt on Mr. Dokpesi before any fair hearing, was synonymous with a mob trial.
The statement further said that While the PDP was not against the war against corruption, the crusade must be carried out within the limits of the law and not as a guise to persecute and torture opposition elements in the country.
The statement reads:
“Our fear is that with the pronouncement of guilt even without being given the opportunity within his rights as a citizen to state his own side of the story, the President Buhari-led government is sidestepping the laws to ensure that Chief Dokpesi does not get justice in the court, a plot which they want to extend to other PDP leaders.
“The PDP therefore demands an open and public trial of all those arrested so that all issues and charges against them as well as their defence therein would also be in the public domain.
“We demand a proper investigation and lawful prosecution instead of the reprehensible resort to outright political persecution, which can only have a place in a military regime.
“We also note that this development may not be unconnected with the planned onslaught against the media, following its commitment in holding this dictatorial regime accountable since it took office.
“Finally, we call on the international community and rights bodies worldwide to note the growing impunity and gross violation of human rights by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government tailored to decimate the opposition and cow the media in Nigeria.”
The Street Journal recalls that Dokpesi was arrested on Tuesday afternoon with others over alleged involvement in arms procurement scam by the Nigerian military between 2009 and 2015.
A senior operative of the anti-graft agency told newsmen on Tuesday that $2.1 billion meant for the arms purchase was traced to Dokpesi’s bank account and he could not explain how the amount was lodged into his private account.