Nigerian Opposition Warns Against Speaker's Arrest

Nigeria's main opposition party on Saturday warned against a plan to arrest parliamentary speaker Tambuwal, who quit the ruling party last month, as tensions rise ahead of February elections.

"The federal government will be pouring petrol on a naked fired by arresting the speaker," the All Progressives Congress (APC) said in a statement.

The APC described "the ceaseless hounding" of Tambuwal by President Goodluck Jonathan and his ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as "patently provocative, to say the least, and calls into question the stated commitment of the Jonathan administration to the rule of law."

It said the police had fired teargas to prevent Tambuwal from entering parliament on Thursday while his deputy was allowed inside so as to remove him as speaker, but Tambuwal and his supporters thwarted them by scaling the gate.

"But for the quick thinking and action by the honourable members who scaled the gate to access the assembly, that plan would have succeeded and Tambuwal would have been removed as speaker, the consequences of which no one would have been able to foretell," the PDP added.

"In the eyes of the law, Rt. Hon. Tambuwal remains the speaker... despite his defection from the PDP to the APC. No matter what the PDP and the presidency may feel, they are not the court of law, which is the only body that can make a definite pronouncement on the fate of the speaker," it added.

Tensions are rising in the run-up to the February elections in Africa's most populous country, which has a history of electoral violence and irregularities.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) warned on Friday that the vote might be "volatile and vicious" and advised that "an increasingly violent" political climate must be checked to avoid widespread unrest.

"Mitigating bloodshed before, during and after the polls requires urgent improvements in security and electoral arrangements and, most importantly, in political mindsets," the ICG said.

Source: New Vision
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