By Taiye Agbaje
Abuja – Some civil society organisations (CSOs) have described the controversies over the search conducted by security agents on the private jet of Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as unnecessary.
A cross-section of members of the CSOs in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday said it was high time Nigerians removed politics from governance.
It would be recalled that some Nigerians, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had, on Sunday, condemned the search on the former Vice President Atiku at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
Atiku, who landed around 1:30a.m, said he arrived into the waiting hands of special security squad comprising army, police, customs and immigration officers, which carry out the search.
However, the Federal Government dismissed the allegation of intimidation, saying what happened to Atiku at the airport was not unusual, and that all passengers on international flights into the country were usually subjected to screening by customs and immigration officers.
Dr Otive Igbuzor, Founding Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre-LSD), said ‘’there are regulations concerning travels worldwide and everyone is equal before the law.”
‘’We are just very funny in this country. There are regulations concerning travels. Everyone is equal before the law and there is nothing wrong in searching a traveler.
‘’It is unfortunate that in Nigeria today, everything has become politicised, which should not be.
‘’We should remove politics from governance so that if things are done which are supposed to be done, it should not have this kind of controversy. I don’t see any need for that controversy,” he said.
Igbuzor, who advised that Nigerians should learn to separate politics from governance, said: ‘’If it is time for campaign, let them campaign but if government officials are doing their work, they should be allowed to do their work.”
On her part, Programme Assistant of Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Zimma Godwin, described the search on Atiku as ‘’a normal thing.”
She said many thought the search goes beyond the airport routine operation because the traveler in question was a presidential candidate of a political party.
‘’We as Nigerians felt President Muhammadu Buhari had something different and that since Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is a presidential candidate, that was why everybody thought something was attached to the search.
‘’But I think it is a normal thing,” she said.
The General Secretary, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE/Nigeria), Comrade Mma Odi, said that ordinary Nigerians had always been subjected to such search at the airports without any hassle.
Odi said although it was an international practice, the people reacted against the act because locally, it has not been the practice.
‘’They don’t search big men and Alhaji Atiku in particular has never been subjected to such search before becoming the candidate of PDP and that is what made this worrisome.
‘’Now that they have done it to a candidate of a major political party, we see it as harassment and subtle intimidation. Personally, I have endured so much harassment through this search. (NAN)