Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, on Monday kicked against the Presidency’s threat to charge some members of the All Progressives Congress with treason.
The President, through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, had on Sunday said that those “threatening fire and brimstone” and calling for his removal should be ready to face charges for treason.
Almost immediately, the Special Assistant to the President on New Media, Reno Omokri, as if to affirm’s the Presidency’s position, went on Twitter to describe members of the APC as ‘desperadoes’.
Omokri tweeted, “The desperadoes in the APC are advised to focus on selling themselves to Nigerians rather than raising false alarm. Whether the APC likes it or
not, the President will continue to revive the railways, power and the economy, even in their states.
“President Jonathan was elected by the Nigerian electorate and the APC cannot get from the back door what the electorate denied them. The APC’s era of politics with bitterness is long gone. We are in an era of politics without ‘betterness’ which President Jonathan personifies.”
Responding to the comments, Fani-Kayode, a member of the APC and an ardent critic of Jonathan on social media, says he is waiting to be charged with treason as threatened by the Presidency.
“GEJ has threatened the leaders of the APC with treason for calling on the National Assembly to impeach him (Jonathan). I dare the President to carry out his threat,” he wrote in a message posted on Twitter.
But another critic of the President, former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and Deputy National Secretary of the APC, Mallam Nasir EL-Rufai, has yet to respond to the threat.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians have urged Jonathan not to plunge the nation into a fresh crisis by clamping down on the critics of his administration. They argued that calls for the removal of the President in a democracy, where citizens have the constitutional right to do so, should not result in charges for treason.
Writing on Abati’s website, www.reubenabti.com.ng, one Magaji described the threat as a subtle way of intimidating the masses and preventing them from expressing their opinion about the Jonathan administration.
“No meaningful Nigerian will believe that Jonathan is running a peoples government. What is the illegality of impeachment that warrants a threat with treason? Perhaps you are ignorant of Nigeria’s supreme law – the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Jonathan is one of the worst presidents we ever have in the history of this nation. Come 2015, he will surely see the result of his leadership.
“It is time for the President to stop treating people as second class citizens. We are all equal in eyes of the law and the privilege of ruling this nation is not a license to oppress,” Magaji wrote.
In another message posted on Twitter, Dare Taiwo warned that a clampdown on people calling for the impeachment of the President will amount to a repression of the freedom of speech.
Arguing that comments attributed to the Presidency were increasingly becoming pedestrian, Taiwo said, “Treason? Do you (Presidency) know how many times the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh (conservative American radio talk show host and political commentator) have called for the impeachment of American President, Barack Obama?
“Get enlightened! You need to stop responding to asinine comments. Comments like this make you guys in Aso Rock sound pedestrian.”
Also, Muhuyi Magaji said it was wrong on the part of Jonathan or his advisers to equate calls for his impeachment with treason.
He advised the President to study the democratic history and the constitution of the country well before allowing himself to be misled into fulfilling his threat.
“Impeachment Is not equal to treason. Not even during the stormy days of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration did the Presidency equate the several calls for Impeachment and removal from office as treason,” Magaji said.
In a single tweet to Abati, one Aminu Ayama, laments that his interpretation of the Presidency’s threat is that “treason is translated into going against the wish of the President under the current so-called democratic leadership.”