Abuja — Less than 24 hours to his presidential declaration on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, erstwhile Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, confirmed yesterday that the Federal Government has barred him from using the Eagle Square, despite paying for same.
Kwankwaso had announced a few days ago that he would make his presidential declaration today (Wednesday) at the Eagle Square.
But in a swift reaction, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Muhammad Bello asked the former governor to produce evidence of approval to use the facility and who approved it for him.
Speaking with Vanguard, Special Assistant, Media, to the Minister, Abubakar Sani, said: "Did the former governor apply to use the place? Let him show us the letter, the person he addressed the letter to, and who approved it."
The Kwankwaso Campaign Organisation, in a statement made available to journalists yesterday,expressed disappointment that the Federal Capital Territory Administration(FCTA) suddenly turned down a request earlier approved owing to "some flimsy reasons."
The statement read: "In a letter dated August 27th, 2018 and signed by Usman Mukhtar Raji for the Facility Manager and received on August 28th, 2018, barely 24 hours to the scheduled declaration, the Abuja International Conference and Eagle Square, managed by the Integrated Facility Management Services Ltd has reversed itself in respect of approval granted the organizers of the declaration of Senator Kwankwaso.
"We at the Kwankwaso Campaign Organisation see the development as the handiwork of the government in power who will not see anything good in growing our fledgling democracy as no level playing field has been created to allow for viable opposition in the country.
"Even at that, earlier on Tuesday morning, the Abuja International Conference Centre and Eagle Square, managed by Integrated Facility Management Services Ltd refused us access to inspect the premises, demanding us to present a Police permit, when actual approval for the use of the Eagle Square has been sought and paid for more than one week to the said declaration.
"The above development will in no way dampen our morale to go ahead with the declaration or chicken-out as it will only embolden us to legally pursue our fundamental rights to freedom of movement and association."
Meanwhile, the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, has berated the Presidency for what it termed the growing culture of intolerance of the opposition in the past three years.
Spokesman of the coalition, Ikenga Ugochinyere while briefing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, warned the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government not to plunge the nation into chaos and lawlessness.
"This is not the first time they are doing this. They stopped him ( Kwankwaso) from being received in Kano. They want to stop him because the President is scared of the popularity of the aspirant. This is part of a plot to institute a full-blown dictatorship in Nigeria if the Nigerian people make the mistake of allowing him (Buhari) to be there in 2019.
"Kwankwaso is declaring on the platform of the PDP, which is one of the coalition partners in the CUPP. We want to inform Nigerians that this act of growing culture of impunity and intimidation has gotten to a very dangerous level with the decision of the Police to seal the venue of a venue of somebody who wants to be President. The Eagle Square was built for such events and people who want to use it pay for it," he said.
Kwankwaso is set to obtain his Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms this week after his declaration. Two aspirants, Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State and former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido had earlier obtained their nomination forms at the party's headquarters yesterday.