Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives’ Congress (APC) of using the instruments of state to execute a witch-hunt of political opponents.
While speaking at a colloquium in Abuja, Obasanjo alleged that the federal government has been using anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), to pursue its opponents.
He said the Ministry of Justice is being used to perpetuate the abuse of power, too, noting that judges are being intimidated to do the ruling party’s bidding in election petitions.
He said, “Some institutions created for normal administration and dispensation of justice, like the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Ministry of Justice are being directed to witch-hunt and pursue political opponents.
“The use of intimidation, violence and physical attacks have started in some states. It is understood that judges are already being intimidated so as to prepare them to do the ruling party’s bidding in election petitions. All these are visible in today’s practice of democracy in Nigeria.”
The former president warned that Nigeria’s democracy has a long way to go, saying that still plagued by dangerous signs.
“For me, that after almost 20 years of the beginning of the present dispensation, it has not been derailed, is enough a development in progress, even though there are many unpalatable practises and dangerous signs that have shown their ugly heads, which is the strongest indication that our democracy is alive but, it cannot be said to be hale and hearty. Practitioners of democracy must be democrats, if you have a lot to be desired,” he said.
Speaking on the theme of the colloquium, “Nigeria’s democracy: The journey so far and the role of women”, Obasanjo said Nigeria’s democracy needs to open itself up for increased participation of women.
He said an amendment needs to be made to the constitution to enforce increased participation of women in the country’s democratic set up.
He said, “In this present administration, there are 15 women members in the house of representatives. It is not only unacceptable but makes mockery of gender balance.
“There must be amendment of our constitution, not to allow any gender to have less than 40 percent in any parliament.
“The health of our democracy can be judged by the participation of women. Democracy is a system of government that allows team spirit and debate before decisions are reached; it is a government for all citizens to benefit without fear or favour.”
The colloquium marked the 70th birthday anniversary of Mrs. Josephine Anenih, a former Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development under the administration of former president, Goodluck Jonathan.