By Chuwang Dungs, Gombe
The leadership of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Gombe state over the weekend issued a ten day ultimatum to Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo to replace President Muhammadu Buhari’s billboards and posters or they will be compelled to protect their rights as citizens.
The State Government had last Monday through the State Traffic and Environmental Marshals in Company of a few personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil defense Corps (NSCDC) and the Police Chief Security Officer (SCO) in Gombe Government House removed all APC billboards and posters including that of President Muhammadu Buhari in all parts of the State capital.
The APC’s Interim Secretary in the State, Bello Kassimu Maigari along with other State Executives of the Party while addressing a press conference over the matter said there is no law against posting billboards and posters in Gombe and that the directives contravened their constitutional rights to freedom of expression.
According to him, “we are therefore considering the action of the personnel of the State Marshals under the directives of Governor Dankwambo as a clear manifestation of political persecution and infringement of our party members’ constitutional right to political association,” adding that. The APC in Gombe is apprehensive of the bias political atmosphere and violence foisted on them by the State Marshals which may likely cause breach of public peace in the State.”
The APC also alleged that Governor Dankwambo’s action was triggered by the colourful and peaceful rally organised by the APC on Tuesday 29th August 2017 to welcome President Muhammadu Buhari from his medical vacation abroad.
While expressing the Party disappointment over the Governor’s action Maigari said Dankwambo desperate presidential ambition is pushing him into doing unreasonable acts, alleging that the governor had co-sponsored the ‘resume or resign’ protest against President Buhari and refused to join other Governors of the country to welcome President Buhari preferring to go to Ekiti State to receive traditional title.
Reacting to the allegation, the Gombe state Commissioner of Information, Umar Ahmed Suleiman described it as an attempt to heat up the polity, earn cheap public sympathy and cause hatred between the governor and the President.
He said “the APC was only using the state Government’s timely ban on the erection of political billboards on Government and other public places to desperately cause a political rift between Governor Dankwambo and President Buhari”.
According to him, “to say that the ban included the removal of President Buhari’s posters and billboards in the State capital is not only untrue but indeed a figment of imagination of those who are trying to desperately cause a rift between the Governor and Mr. President”.
He stated that there is a billboard act where such persons, political associations or organizations need to be cleared first, pay a specific amount before erecting such billboards but that in order to allow for a more democratic situation, the State Government had maintained a prolonged silence.
He explained that Government’s action was based on its believe that it is its responsibility that all public places are kept clean rather than what others think is an attempt to keep them away from showcasing their political image which the commissioner describes as untrue.
“What the order said was simply a ban of politician’s billboards and posters in public places and round-abouts, including those who adorn their posters with that of Mr. President, but did not say that any billboard or poster carrying only his picture should be removed. The ban as it should be understood did not single out any political party but even those billboards and posters of PDP”, the commissioner stressed.
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