2023: Tinubu, Atiku, Obi bicker over fake news, hate speech

Sponsoring fake news against me won’t help Atiku, Obi –TINUBU

THE campaign teams of the presidential candidates of the three leading political parties – All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakr; and Labour Party,  Mr. Peter Obi, were, yesterday, locked in bickerings over fake news and hate speech.

Tinubu’s campaign fired the first salvo; as its Director, Media and Publicity, Mr Bayo Onanuga, in a statement, accused Atiku and Obi of sponsoring fake news against Tinubu in the hope of getting the former Lagos State governor disqualified, which he said would not help the presidential quest of the duo.

Responding in kind, the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation asked Tinubu to come clean about his complicity in the alleged illicit drug-related forfeiture of $460,000 to authorities in the United States, instead of trying to divert attention.

In like manner, the Obi-Datti campaign of the LP asked its APC counterpart to look within its ranks for those responsible for the alleged forgery of the letter-headed paper of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to issue a fake statement, saying it was depressing that a party whose candidate had a record of falsification of documents could have the effrontery to accuse innocent people of doing the same.

Tinubu, Atiku and Obi bickered as the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, urged political parties and their candidates to focus on issues in their campaigns, ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Also, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, warned politicians against hate speech, saying it posed grave danger to the unity and stability of a democratic society, protection of human rights and the rule of law.

Sponsoring fake news against me won’t help you, Tinubu tells Atiku, Obi

Cautioning Atiku and Obi against sponsoring fake news to malign Tinubu’s reputation, which it said would not help their ambitions, Tinubu campaign said:  “The opposition Peoples Democratic Party and its subsidiary: Labour Party, having realised they have no sure path to victory in the February 2023 presidential election upped their campaign of calumny, disinformation and misinformation on Saturday by sponsoring fake news against the All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”

“They did it by forging the letterhead of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the signature of its national commissioner, Festus Okoye”, said Onanuga.

According to the APC campaign team, the forged statement purportedly issued by INEC was disseminated to deceive the gullible public that INEC was investigating allegations against Asiwaju Tinubu that, they desperately hoped, will ultimately lead to the disqualification of the frontline APC presidential candidate.

The ruling party also called on the police to investigate those behind the fake statement and get them to face the wrath of the law.

“We are not in any way surprised by the antics of the sinking opposition parties. What we found shocking was how quickly some compromised media organisations gulped the falsehood, hook, line and sinker, without attempting to verify.

“We understand why they did so: the forgery and its narrative fit their mindset of throwing overboard every known virtue of ethical journalism and professionalism, as they work in cahoot with the opposition to defame Asiwaju Tinubu.

“This inglorious path has been taken before since 2003 and in the run-up to the primaries of the ruling APC that produced Asiwaju Tinubu as the presidential torch bearer. Those who took this damned path of infamy lost their bet because Asiwaju Tinubu stands rock solid and indestructible”, the statement added.

The APC campaign council noted that its candidate has consistently said he will make the campaigns about issues that affect the lives of Nigerians and how to proffer workable and enduring solutions that will improve quality of life of the people.

“He has demonstrated this resolve by publishing an 80-page manifesto tagged Action Plan for a Better Nigeria, which he has been selling to strategic sectoral groups in the country.

“We had hoped anyone aspiring to lead our country at this time will be a natural subscriber to this noble and higher goal.

“It is clear the opposition parties and purveyors of fake news have other negative ideas: they want to make this election cycle more about muckraking and mudslinging.

“While we want to stay above the fray and stand by our commitment to inspire our people and restore their faith and confidence in the immense goodness and greatness of our country, we want to serve notice to all the agents of disinformation and their collaborating media platforms, that our campaign organisation stands ready to confront and fight all libellous and defamatory publications against Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“We shall no longer allow the prevailing recklessness and utter disregard for professional judgment to continue unchallenged.

“We also call on the police to investigate the circulation of the forged INEC statement and serve justice to those responsible.”

Tinubu trying to avoid scrutiny over $460,000-ATIKU/OKOWA CAMPAIGN

Countering, spokesperson of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation, Kola Ologbondiyan, asked the APC presidential candidate to come clean about his complicity in the alleged illicit drug-related forfeiture of $460,000 to authorities in the United States instead of trying to divert attention.

In a telephone interview with Vanguard, Ologbondiyan said hat claims by the APC Presidential campaign that the PDP campaign and its Labour Party counterpart were behind a fake INEC press release indicting Tinubu, were part of a diversionary tactic by the APC, which was hell bent on shifting attention from the real issue.

He said: “We demand that Tinubu should come out boldly and defend his reported link to the whopping sum of $460,000 forfeited to the United States rather than hiding behind a finger and sending his media aides to attack other Nigerians.

“Our campaign insists that the burden before Asiwaju Tinubu is to cleanse himself of being linked to illicit funds by a court in the United States rather than searching for scapegoats and pointing index finger on others whereas the remaining are pointing to his direction.

“Is it not absurd that rather than proving his innocence by personally telling Nigerians the truth about the forfeiture judgment, Asiwaju Tinubu is allowing his aides, who were not principal witnesses in the crime, to issue threats and vituperations on Nigerians?

“This accounts for why the campaign is singing discordant tunes on taxation while Asiwaju Tinubu himself is labouring to dismiss the case as ‘a rumour.’ This is very laughable!

“Our campaign wants Asiwaju Tinubu to know that Nigerians are still waiting for him to address the very serious issue of alleged link with narcotics for which a forfeiture judgment was imposed on him.”

Looking within APC for your problems, LP tells Tinubu

On its part, the LP Presidential campaign asked the APC to look within its ranks for those responsible for the alleged forgery of the letter headed paper of the INEC to issue a fake statement.

In a telephone interview with Vanguard, the opposition party said it was depressing that a party whose candidate has a record of falsification of documents could have the effrontery to accuse innocent people of doing the same.

The chief spokesperson of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Dr. Yunusa Tanko, warned the APC Campaign to desist from dragging the LP into its sinking campaign with baseless allegations.

His words: “It is on record that our Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, has never falsified any record about his age, his academic credentials, or had cause to deny his place or birth or his parents.

“It is inconceivable for a presidential campaign whose candidate has been unable to come clean about his background to accuse us of conniving with another opposition party to falsify documents. Our advice to the APC is for it to face issues and stop diverting attention.”

Shettima’s insults on Obi, breach peace accord – LP CAMPAIGN

Also, the LP Presidential Campaign expressed disgust at what it described as the various unguarded insults and disparaging remarks passed on Obi and other candidates, by the Vice Presidential Candidate of the APC, Senator Kassim Shettima.“Director General of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign, Dr. Doyin Okupe, conveyed the party’s displeasure in a statement in Abuja, yesterday.

He said:  “Our political parties are all signatories to the National Peace Accord, supervised by General Abdulsalami Abubakar National Peace Committee chairman, which represents the bonafide Code of Conduct, for all corporate and individual direct participants, in the current electoral process.

“In the Peace Accord signed in Abuja, it was expressly stated, that candidates will avoid the use of abusive and offensive language, throughout the campaigns.

“It is, therefore, very unfortunate and regretful, but not exactly surprising. that in flagrant disregard for the clauses and principles of this accord ,the APC Vice Presidential Candidate, in particular, has continued, repeatedly, to play the court jester –  by persistently , irresponsibly and recklessly, making all sorts of derogatory comments, totally at variance with good manners and decorum.

“We are in no doubt whatsoever, that while he has consistently abused the opportunity of public audience, by making these snide remarks about Peter Obi and other candidates, he cannot, in the least and in any way, ever measure up to these his political superiors, in integrity, character and status, not to mention vision, policies and national acceptance.

Okupe further said:  “We here emphasize, that strictly in line, with the directives of our presidential candidate, Peter Obi, to keep the campaign engagement and rhetoric, civil and issue based, we have resisted his sustained diatribe, and could not bring ourselves to his dirt level, to respond to him in like manner.

“However, it must be placed on record that this does not represent a lack of capacity to publicly take him on, especially as he personally carries a huge burden of a sordid and reprehensible past.

“At this juncture, the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Organisation will like to  advise the APC to rein in and restrain its Vice Presidential candidate from further uncouth and unguarded language against our candidate and all other candidates in this race.

“It can be understood that he is still basking in the euphoria of having been nominated, to the exalted position of the Vice Presidential candidate of a party, which ordinarily could never have occurred, in an environment of strict adherence to best practices and high moral and character values, where due attention is paid to pedigree, personal records and known antecedents.

Okupe noted that in saner climes, a presidential election is a serious process of responsibility to the people, and should not become a putreous arena for display of bad manners and verbal hooliganism.

“We will like to remind Shettima that those who make their living in glass houses should not have stone throwing as their hobby.”

Peter Obi’s statistics is unsettling the opposition, says Media Office

Indeed, the Obi-Datti Media office, said the dimensions Obi brought into the nation’s electioneering this time around has successfully thrown many pundits and politicians off balance because they were never prepared for it.

It said in a statement:  Obi’s issue driven campaigns even though the correct and necessary thing to do in an ideal democratic setting has remained alien and unfamiliar to Nigeria’s political environment, hence the apparent disgruntlement from his competitors and the opposition political parties.

“The use of statistics and figures by Obi to buttress his points to Nigerians has helped to drive home his points, almost the same way the use of statistics and illustrations are handy in explanation of things.

“But notwithstanding all the potentials that abound in the use of statistics, the Labour Party flag bearer, Mr. Peter Obi, has remained under attack for adequately using statistics to explain the challenges of the country and the way to go about it using inferences from other countries that passed similar roads and have already scaled through.

The Obi-Datti Media office said it tries to ask, why Nigeria is averse to any progressive ideas, especially in political circles despite not making any meaningful progress in the old ways.

“At a recent Arise Television Town Hall meeting for presidential candidates, even the organizers mobilised themselves in the name of fact-checking to ambush and embarrass Obi on his statistics but couldn’t, instead they apologized to him for their own misinformation.”

Catholic Bishops seek issues-based campaigns

Worried by the dangerous bent campaign of calumny is assuming, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, yesterday urged political parties and their candidates to focus on issue-based campaigns, urging that campaigns should be devoid of bitterness and unhealthy rivalry.

The Bishops also urged the government to provide the enabling environment for citizens to exercise their franchise devoid of violence, intimidation, vote buying and vote selling during the 2023 general elections.

These were contained in a message by the Bishops at the end of the 3rd National Pastoral Congress of the Catholic Church in the country with the theme: ‘Towards a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission’.

The message was co-signed by the CBCN President, Most Rev. Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji (Archbishop of Owerri) and the Secretary, Most Rev. Donatus Aihmiosion Ogun (Bishop of Uromi),

“Political candidates for the election should avail citizens of their electoral manifestoes including strategies for achieving set goals and objectives.

“The practice of promising the electorate lofty objectives to be pursued by political office holders that look good on paper but only to be jettisoned after such candidates win election has become the common experience of many Nigerians,” they said.

The message recalled that at their last meeting in Orlu, Imo State in September 2022, they promised that at the end of third Pastoral Congress, a prayer will be composed for free, fair, credible and peaceful elections in our country in 2023.

“The bishops have composed the said prayers, which should be said in all dioceses, parishes and families from now to the time of elections,” they said.

Economy in bad shape

The Catholic Bishops lamented that despite several efforts by the government, the economy had not been in good shape. Consequently, they argued that redesigning the Naira alone cannot provide the needed reprieve in the economy and confront the problems of corruption and terrorism-financing.

The clerics advised the Federal Government to exploit every opportunity, build strong institutional frameworks and laws such as an effective policing system, tracking and timely prosecution of corrupt persons, amongst others.

“Citizens are not seeing much improvement in their daily lives but a decline in their purchasing power. The costs of staple food like rice, yam and garri have skyrocketed. Power supply is still epileptic.

“Fuel is sold at far above the official pump rates in many parts of the country. This should not be happening in a country that is the 6th largest producer of crude oil in the world. Government should devise a strategy that makes fuel and other petroleum products available, accessible and affordable.“”The new government policy of Naira redesign, aimed at curbing inflation and fighting corruption and terrorism, is a lofty idea.

“In any case, Naira redesign alone cannot provide the needed reprieve in the economy and confront the hydra-headed problems of corruption and terrorism.

“A redesigned naira must necessarily be accompanied by strong institutional frameworks and laws such as an effective policing system, tracking and timely prosecution of corrupt persons and strengthening the security agencies to properly police Nigeria’s borders to prevent the influx of armed bandits from other countries.”

Hate speech, greatest danger to unity, stability of Nigeria – ACF

Also cautioning against hate speech, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, in a statement titled “Hate speech and violence will be our death” by  its Secretary  General, Murtala  Aliyu, said: “Although  Nigeria  is  already  facing  severe life threatening challenges arising from lack of security and the growing economic crises, it would seem that there are many desperate political leaders and other self-appointed community champions that will not hesitate to add more fuel to the fire.

“As shamefully, most are driven by blind ambition or plain hatred. No one can fail to notice the alarming rise of tension and lawlessness as the election campaigns and contests gather pace. There are reports that some politicians are engaging thugs and violent persons to attack their opponents, spreading terror and fear everywhere.

“Of much greater concern, however, is the resort to hate speech, insults and threats of violence being issued by the political leaders including state governors. They seem to be pathetically unaware that the distance between hate speeches and violence, even genocide, is a very short one.

“Hate speech, for whatever reason, covers many forms of expression but all incite, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against an individual or group of people. It poses grave danger to the unity and stability of a democratic society, protection of human rights and the rule of law. Unchecked, it can lead to acts of violence and conflict on a grand scale.”

Ortom’s apology over anti-Fulani’s comments, a relief

“We have to say that we were relieved to hear of Governor Samuel Ortom’s apology following his outburst in this regard. The Governor’s hostile comments on Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the PDP, dominated discussion in the country for much of last week. The Electoral Act as amended and for good reasons, prescribed heavy punishment for infractions such as this.

“The fact that hate speeches and acts of violence and aggression are rife in this campaign season can only mean that the laws are not being enforced. This hasn’t come as a surprise considering the fact that the National Assembly has so far chosen not to enact the law that will see to the birth of the Electoral Offences Tribunal.

“In the meantime, INEC has a responsibility to act and enforce the Electoral Act as amended. It should impose the harshest punishment possible on politicians, who think achieving their personal ambitions is more important than national peace and harmony. Such persons are unfit for any form of leadership at any level.

“The Arewa Consultative Forum, therefore called on leaders at whatever level to exercise restraint in their utterances to enable Nigerians have a peaceful election and transition to the next government in 2023.”







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