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Nigerian Opposition Accuses Ruling Party of Harassment

  • Joe DeCapua

In Nigeria, tension is rising in the southeastern state of Imo, where several opposition party members have been arrested or abducted. The opposition blames the state government, but authorities deny the charges.

The alleged harassment comes just days before Nigeria holds elections for state governors. The opposition is quoted as saying its members are an “endangered species.”

The chief of staff to the governorship candidate of the opposition Action Congress Party was abducted Wednesday by unknown gunmen. Also, the chief of staff of the candidate for the All Progressives Grand Alliance, a U.S. citizen, was released from jail Wednesday after being behind bars for 21 days.

He had been accused of insulting the Imo State governor and former president Olusegun Obasanjo during a campaign rally in Owerri. He denies the charges.

The ruling PDP says it’s doing everything it can to maintain peace and security in the run-up to next Tuesday’s gubernatorial vote. It rejects accusations it’s intimidating or harassing the opposition. Nevertheless, many senior opposition party officials are in hiding. They fail to show up at rallies and are said to change their hotels frequently to keep their whereabouts unknown.

The opposition in Imo State has been given a good chance of defeating the ruling party next Tuesday. That’s because the current governor was once himself a member of the opposition, but later switched allegiance to the PDP. Analysts say that may have cost him support.

VOA reporter Chinedu Offor is on assignment in Owerri in Imo State. To hear his interview with Joe De Capua, click on the link below.