Nigeria’s main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) party said security forces raided its Lagos offices Saturday, destroying more than a dozen party computers and documents.
The Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) reportedly confirmed the raid, but said it was investigating an alleged duplication of voters’ cards currently being issued by the independent Electoral Commission for next year’s general elections.
APC spokesman Lai Mohammed likened the invasion to the Watergate scandal leading to the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1974.
He accused the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of ordering the raid to “illegally” get hold of APC voter registration strength.
“You may wish to remember that, a couple of months ago, our party embarked on a nationwide registration exercise in which several millions of Nigerians were registered as members of our party. We subsequently set up six centers all over the country to input and gather all the information, so that we can have the data base. It is one of these data offices in Lagos that the security agents invaded,” he said.
Mohammed said that if the government had any information of illegal activities, it should have obtained a court order to search the premises.
“The official explanation by the government is that they had information that we were using that office to print illegal voters’ card[s]. And, I questioned it and said, ‘Why didn’t you go to court and get a court order to make a search? Why would you come in the middle of the night armed to the teeth, intimidating and harassing our staff and carting our information?’” Mohammed said.
He said the APC will sue the federal government for damages. He also called for an independent investigation.
Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary of the PDP, said the APC is crying wolf because it has no winnable message for the people of Nigeria ahead of the 2015 general elections.
“The APC has not been able to get its message across to Nigerians on what they stand for and what they want to change, and they’ve engaged in the past few months [in] diversionary tactics, crying wolf and making imaginary cases,” Metuh said.
Mohammed described as unfortunate last Thursday’s incident when Speaker Aminu Tambuwal of Nigeria’s parliament was tear gassed as police tried to stop him and other members from entering the parliament.
He accused President Goodluck Jonathan of ordering security forces to arrest the speaker.
“The president is so desperate for re-election that he would stop at nothing to be re-elected. He was the one who asked the speaker of the House [of Representatives] to reconvene to debate his own request for extension of the state of emergency in three northeastern states. Yet, it was his own police that ambushed the speaker and prevented him from getting access into chambers until the members forced their way into the national assembly,” Mohammed said.