The battle for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) between former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe state is already causing ripples with the arrest of Honourable Ibrahim Bage, the Gombe State Coordinator of the Atiku Care Foundation (ACF) on Thursday morning allegedly on the orders of the governor.
Bage, it was learnt,was arrested by the officials of the Department of State Services (DSS) in Gombe, who seized his personal belongings including phones, laptop and camera.
He was later whisked to Government House, Gombe, where he met with the governor who allegedly warned him to desist from sensitising members of the public on Atiku’s presidential ambition.
The governor, it was learnt, told him the activities of the ACF in the state is illegal since he (Dankwambo) also has a presidential ambition on the platform of PDP like Atiku.
According to Bage who spoke in a telephone chat with INDEPENDENT, “The governor told me my activities as Chairman of ACF in Gombe state is illegal. He said we are disturbing the peace of the state and we are inciting people against him by marketing Atiku Abubakar through distribution of items to the less privileged.
“He asked me: ‘Are you not aware that I have presidential ambition in 2019?’ I told him I was aware sir but ‘I am not in anyway constituting any hindrance to your aspirations’. I also told him ‘our organisation is not illegal’. It is a registered organisation, which is philanthropic in nature and I have a copy of the certificate.
“I also told him in all our dealings, we have always carried the security agencies along. We have never embarked on any programmed without first informing security agencies and we have never for once de-marketed the governor before the people of Gombe.
“He warned me to be careful and later asked the DSS officials to allow me to go. As I speak, my laptop, camera and phones are still in the custody of the DSS,” he said.
In a statement on Friday by ACF’s National Director, Media and Publicity, Chief Sunny Onuesoke, the Foundation said it condemned the arrest of Bage on the orders of the governor, saying such action is inimical to the growth and sustenance of democracy in the country.
“Our attention has been drawn to the barbaric, unlawful arrest and detention of the Chairman, ACF, Gombe State by Gov. Dankwambo.
“Gov. Dankwambo’s actions are inimical to the tenets of democracy for freedom of association as enshrined in our constitution as a nation.
“We condemn this action in his entirety and called on Nigerians to come out and voice their displeasure over this dictatorial actions of Gov. Dankwambo of Gombe State.
“We also call on the DSS and other security agencies in the Country not to allow themselves to be used by selfish politicians who go about terrorising innocent and law abiding citizens.
“Hon. Ibrahim Bage was arrested by DSS and brought before Gov. Dankwambo who ordered Bage to support his (Dankwambo) Presidential Ambition come 2019. Bage was reported to have declined the Governor’s “order”, stating that ACF is a philanthropic organisation that is extending Atiku’s care to the less privileged and IDPs.
“Personal belongings of Hon. Bage including phones, laptop, camera were reportedly seized by the Governor and his government officials,” the statement said.
A credible source in the ACF said Atiku has already been briefed on the development.