Festus Keyamo

The Buhari Campaign Organisation has told the United States Ambassador, Stuart Symington, and other western ambassadors that President Muhammed Buhari was not planning to rig Saturday’s elections.

The spokesman for the organisation, Festus Keyamo (SAN), said this in a statement in Abuja on Monday.

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Keyamo said the days of colonialism were long gone and therefore advised Symington to respect Nigeria’s sovereignty.

He also accused Symington and other western ambassadors of partiality and tacit support for the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.

Concise News reports that Symington had also warned public officials not to obey unlawful directives issued in the name of the “boss,” saying any politician whose utterances incite people to violence would be held to account for the crime.

The ambassador’s warning came a day after Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State threatened that foreign persons who interfere in the elections would leave Nigeria in body bags, a statement that was defended by the Presidency.

However, Keyamo said the utterances of some western powers were giving the impression that Buhari was planning to rig Saturday’s elections.

The campaign spokesman also questioned the decision of the US Government to issue a visa to Atiku despite being accused of corruption.

The statement read in part, “We take the view that the constant statements by Ambassador Symington and the other diplomats are implicit attacks against the government of Nigeria. These statements imply the Nigerian government is inclined to rig the election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is unfair and unacceptable to us. President Muhammadu Buhari has never been accused of electoral malpractice all his life.

“However, in contrast, former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, publicly boasted a few months ago that he rigged the 2003 elections in the South-West states. Here, we have an open confession of blatant electoral malfeasance by the PDP candidate. But in all of these, there seem to be no concern by Ambassador Symington and other diplomats about this well-acknowledged proclivity of the main opposition.

“We expected that such open confession to rigging in the past would have drawn condemnation from the United States. Rather, what we witnessed recently was the ignoble act of giving such a self-confessed rigger with a decade-old indictment in America for corruption hanging over his head a special status to enter the US for a few days. Such is the double standard that America now displays for the whole world to see.

“We are deeply concerned about many of the expressions of the United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador W. Stuart Symington and other Western diplomats which have been directed towards Nigeria’s forthcoming elections. Whilst we laud and whole-heartedly welcome their interests in the elections, many of these expressions have been notably off-key. The continued warnings about ‘flawed elections’ is capable of casting an unwarranted cloud over the process. Instead of encouraging our country toward credible elections, such statements undermine public confidence. It would appear that these envoys seem to have discredited the election before it has even taken place.”

Keyamo said threatening to deal with persons who make certain utterances was an abuse of free speech which is guaranteed by both the Nigerian and the United States’ constitutions.

He said contrary to insinuations, it was the PDP that rigged in 2015 especially in the South-South geopolitical zone where the party won.