Presidential declaration :FG denies Kwankwaso access to Eagle Square, ICC
.Not true, we’re only on routine security surveillance – Police
By Steve Oko
Plans by Kano former Governor, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to use the Eagle Square or the International Conference Centre (ICC) Abuja as venue for the official declaration of his presidential ambition was Tuesday dashed by the Federal Government.
The Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA) which had earlier granted approval for the use of the facilities later withdrew the approval.
The former Kano Chief Executive was among the senators who recently defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He is also one of the frontline PDP presidential aspirants ,and banks on the large voting strength of his state to realise his ambition to rule Nigeria from May 29, 2019.
Kwankwaso told newsmen yesterday in Abuja that the FCTA which earlier approved use of the venue suddenly without any cogent reason reversed itself.
According to him the only but flimsy excuse provided by the agency was that the planned declaration was taking place on a working day.
Kwankwaso expressed disappointment and shock over the development.
Providing more insights on what transpired, his Campaign Organisation said : “In a letter dated August 27, 2018 and signed by Usman Mukhtar Raji, for the Facility Manager, and received on August 28, 2018, barely 24 hours to the scheduled declaration, the Abuja International Conference Centre and Eagle Square, managed by the Integrated Facility Management Services Ltd, has reversed itself in respect of the approval granted the organisers of the declaration of Senator Kwankwaso.
“We at the Kwankwaso Campaign Organisation see the development as the handiwork of the government in power which 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 Centre 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 or chicken-out as it will only embolden us to legally pursue our fundamental right to freedom of movement and association”.
The declaration was later held in a hotel in Abuja.
But in a swift reaction, police denied blocking access to the original venues, saying they were only on routine surveillance.
Force Public Relations Officer and Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Mr. Jimoh Moshood, said police were not involved in the purported blockade.
The Police Spokesman insisted that the police were only carrying out their constitutional responsibility.
According to Moshood , “police officers were merely deployed in the premises like every other public place in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), for purely routine security surveillance”.
He contended that whatever might have happened was between the organisers of the rally and the facility managers, adding that the police should be left out of it.
His words :“The Police did not seal off any place. We have deployment to every public place in Abuja.
“If you go to the Unity Fountain in Maitama, there is police deployment there. If you go to the City Gate, there is police deployment there.
“If you move across the FCT, there are places where policemen are deployed due to intelligence reports or one form of activity or the other.
“The Eagle Square is a private enterprise. If you notice any police deployment there, it must have been to ensure security”.
Meanwhile President Muhammadu Buhari had come under fire over the development with some describing it as a desperate attempt to muscle the opposition.
In its reaction the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), wonderd why Kwankwaso would be denied access to the venue when the President’s party, the APC had held similar events at the same venue on working days.
CUPP accused the government of using the police and other agencies of government as instruments of oppression against the opposition.
CUPP’s National Spokesperson, Barr. Ikenga Ugochinyere, urged lovers of democracy as well as the international community to rise in defense of Nigeria’s democracy.
“This latest culture of intimidation and impunity by the Federal Government must be resisted”, he said.
“The constant attack on key opposition leaders and the use of state force against opposition aspirants cannot stop us from serving President Muhammadu Buhari his well-deserved electoral defeat to Buhari “.