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2019 Elections: Buhari’s team cautions US over ‘unguarded’ comments

President Muhammadu Buhari.

The All Progressive Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council has cautioned the United States of America and other Western countries over their “unguarded statements on our election.”

Festus Keyamo, the Director of Strategic Communications of the campaign council, said this in a statement in Abuja, on Monday.

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“We are deeply concerned about many of the expressions of the United States’ Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador W. Stuart Symington and other Western Diplomats which have been directed towards Nigeria’s upcoming elections.

“Whilst we laud and whole-heartedly welcome their interests in the elections, many of these expressions have been notably off- key. The continued warnings about ‘flawed elections’ is capable of casting an unwarranted cloud over the process.

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“Instead of encouraging our country toward credible elections, such statements undermine public confidence. It would appear that these envoys seem to have discredited the election before it has even taken place,” the statement said.

Keyamo said Symington was seeking to “shrink our ambit of free speech so that we may behave in accordance with their vision of well-behaved Africans, rather than in consonance with our vision of our own democracy, no matter how tumultuous and dramatic we may be. It would appear that his position seeks to prohibit forms of expression integral to our political discourse. These forms of expression have time and time again been adjudged to be constitutionally-protected speeches by the United States Supreme Court.

“However, Ambassador Symington intentionally issued his threats to place a chilling effect on speeches in Nigeria that, if uttered in America, would be constitutionally protected.

“Unfounded allegations and threats to penalize people for constitutionally-protected free speech is improper interference in our internal affairs. Sadly, what Ambassador Symington and some other western diplomats are doing border on the improper.”

He said the constant statements by Ambassador Symington and the other diplomats were implicit attacks against the government of Nigeria.

“These statements imply the Nigerian government is inclined to rig the election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is unfair and unacceptable to us.

“The impression he creates by constantly harping on suspected government interference with the electoral process is that President Buhari cannot win without tipping the results. He seems to be saying that only a PDP victory will be evidence of a fair election.”

The APC campaign council insisted that Nigerians will define Nigeria’s democracy, adding that: “We shall hold fair and just elections, not because of scolding by diplomats, but because we have sufficient intelligence and morality to do what is right for ourselves.”

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