The PDP in Kaduna State on Sunday called for the “immediate release” of Ben Bako, the Director (Media), of its Campaign Council.
Bako, a former commissioner of information in the state, is currently under the custody of the Department of State Services over alleged hate speech and public incitement.
The PDP demanded for Bako’s release in a press conference on Sunday in Kaduna. The conference was addressed by the Deputy Director of the State Campaign Council, Danjuma Bello-Sarki.
He said: “We are calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Ben Bako, who has been harassed and illegally detained without trial, for more than 24 hours.”
According to him, the Director, Directorate of State Service in Kaduna State, Alhaji Ahmadu Idris, invited Bako to his office in Kaduna on Saturday.
He said: “As a law abiding citizen, and with nothing to fear or hide, Bako dutifully honoured the invitation.
“But on arrival, he was kept incommunicado for several hours, and finally taken to Abuja in the night.”
He said that the arrest of Bako was “illegal”, but declared that the PDP would explore “legal means” in seeking his release.
He said: “The PDP in Kaduna State is determined and totally committed to a peaceful polls and will not be dragged into any violence.
“No member or supporter of the PDP will be involved in breaking the law. In the same manner, the PDP is serious about ensuring that every vote cast in the state counts. We call on our members and supporters to vote in all the elections.
“They must ensure that their votes are counted, recorded and moved to the next collation centre. We are ready to use every legal means to protect our franchise. Nothing will deter us from this.”
The PDP official claimed that there were plans to arrest and detain 150 of its top leaders, ahead of the February 16 and March 2 elections.
He accused the Kaduna State government of planning to arrest youth and women leaders, as well as staunch supporters of the PDP “shortly before the elections”.
He said: “The plan is to arrest our members over alleged hate speech during campaign rallies. The intention is to send fears and weaken the spirit of the campaign, and to ultimately stir crisis in the state.”
Efforts to speak with the Kaduna office of the DSS were not successful, but the Kaduna State Government, in its reaction, dismissed the allegations as “incorrect”.
“The allegations are not correct. The security agents have the mandate to invite anyone for questioning over issues that border on peace and security,” Samaila Aruwan, Senior Special Assistant to Governor El-Rufai on Media and Publicity, told the News Agency of Nigeria.
Aruwan added: “Governor El-Rufai cannot teach the security agencies how to go about discharging their Constitutional responsibility of securing citizens from breakdown of law and order.
“We are not aware of this arrest. We are not the force behind this. But one thing is clear – no one is above the law.
“From what we have read in the media, security agencies are currently questioning or interrogating the director in question, regarding the issues that he raised during a campaign rally.
“There is a video that has gone viral; in the said video, you will see the said director demonstrating and calling for a mass action or violence against citizens who may opt to vote against his political party.
“Nigerians enjoy the right to freedom of association and that of choosing their leaders through the ballot. No one should interfere or intimidate them into doing his or her will.”