Chief Ayo Adebanjo, elder statesman and one of the leaders of Afenifere, has dared the Federal Government to arrest him over his statement that he would not recognise President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the 2019 presidential election until proven by the courts.
Adebanjo, in an interview published by Daily Independent, had described the 2019 presidential election as a farce, saying he could not recognise Buhari – who was declared winner of the election – as president-elect.
Adebanjo, who also expressed optimism that Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would get justice at the court, also said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wrongly declared President Buhari as winner of the election.
“The election was a farce. I don’t regard Buhari as president. Buhari was wrongly declared winner by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). When we get to court, we would know who the real president is.
“How can you call Buhari president with the way the presidential election was conducted in a 21st century Nigeria? Look at the elections, they were completely militarised. Corps members were openly kidnapped to rig the elections,” he had said.
However, some Nigerians had reacted to the interview by calling for his arrest, saying his statement was treasonable.
The National Democratic Front (NDF) on Tuesday called for the immediate arrest and arraignment of Adebanjo, saying his comment amounted to treason and utterances capable of plunging the country into another civil war.
NDF, through its Secretary General, Dr. Bolaji Abdulkadir, said: “Adebanjo premised his treasonous call, published by the Daily Independent, on the handling of the recently held presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is merely a cover to justify the mayhem he and his co-travellers are planning in order to illegitimately and forcefully overthrow the government in violation of the constitution.
“Security agencies must immediately act to curtail such excesses by immediately arresting Adebanjo and anyone that instructed him to make such statement with a view to sending out the message that the laws of Nigeria are not to be toyed with.
“This call became necessary because of the series of plots by people like Adebanjo (and those who pay him) to overthrow the government of President Buhari, which were uncovered by the Federal Government prior to the elections.”
In his reaction on Tuesday, Adebanjo said he stood by his comment that he would not recognise President Buhari as the winner of the election.
He said he would not be surprised if he was arrested as the Buhari administration was known for its lack of tolerance for the opposition.
“Let them come and arrest me. I am used to that. It is typical of their regime that they don’t tolerate opposition. It is typical of Buhari in particular, he doesn’t tolerate opposition; so it’s nothing new to me.
“I maintain my stand that until the Supreme Court rules that he is validly elected, I will not recognise him.
“We have evidence that the election was rigged, let the court decide otherwise. That is all I am saying.
“The constitution provides that if you are not satisfied with the outcome of the election, go to the tribunal and don’t resort to violence.
“It is only when the court decides that he won, that is when I will recognise him. If to them, that is an offence, then I am ready to go to prison. By my pronouncement, I have not said anything illegal or unconstitutional.
“Right now, Buhari is the president declared by INEC, and not the person that won the election, and the constitution says if you are not satisfied by that declaration, go to the tribunal.
“I will only recognise him if the court rules that he is the rightful winner. That is my position and if it is an offence to follow what the constitution says, then I am ready to go to prison,” he said.