With the failure of smears between the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his rival in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, civil society organizations (CSOs) in Nigeria they have condemned attacks carried out by some presidential candidates before the general elections next month.

According to CSOs, candidates who have nothing to offer the people have now embarked on personal attacks, thus heating up politics.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP, CSOs said that some of the presidential candidates have become a nuisance and now lure voters with money instead of presenting their development agenda.

It emerged that APC’s Tinubu had taken PDP’s Atiku to court for alleged corruption. Conversely, Atiku also took Tinubu to court for drug-related matters.

These, among other issues, have created tension ahead of the election as candidates, instead of defending their development agenda, have embarked on throwing mud at their opponents and resorting to voter induction.

But CSOs have raised concerns, calling on candidates to return to issue-based politics.

The CSOs that spoke to LEADERSHIP yesterday are: Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Transparency International (TI) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC).

Speaking through their leader, Awwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CSOs said they are concerned about the dimension the campaigns have taken, which is heating up politics.

“We are concerned about the turn of events. Presidential candidates have resorted to using personal attacks instead of campaigning on the issues. This has been the old tactic that politicians with nothing to offer have been using instead of tackling the real issues.

“They don’t want to engage with the Nigerian people so they can be held accountable for their engagement. They have embarked on personal attacks instead of speaking out about the issues,” the CSOs said.

According to the CSOs, the 2023 general elections appear to have been unmotivated, adding that drastic efforts must be made to ensure that the country does not fall into crisis.

“The 2023 elections seem to be unemotional. Attacks and financial induction are the order of the day. Many people who are supposed to distinguish between black and white, with poverty, poor infrastructure, cannot discern the credible candidate to vote for.

“The electoral campaign now is not based on problems. They are simply using money or intimidation with violence to prevent people from making informed decisions. This is truly a setback and the CSOs we represent frown on this tension that has been created by politicians.

“They are dodging issue-based politics so no one will hold them accountable for the promise they made if they get there. What they are doing now are personal attacks that prevent voters from asking them questions about what they will do.

“Apparently, most of the political parties are also supporting what their candidates are doing. You hardly hear them condemn such. So, you cannot excuse them for the type of campaign that their candidates are doing”, the CSOs added.

Meanwhile, a former Kwara state attorney general, lawyer Salman Jawondo (SAN), said cases brought by PDP and APC presidential candidates Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu respectively, seeking the disqualification of the other, cannot lead to to disqualification. of any of them.

Jawondo, who spoke to LEADERSHIP in Ilorin, said the cases cannot be decided before the next presidential election.

He said: “Action and counter-action each have their roots in political permutations. Each action is rooted in the commission of crimes and, as such, each has the burden of proving his allegations against his opponent beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The cases would definitely survive the elections because they cannot be decided before the elections are held. Beyond their political propaganda value, the cases cannot lead to the disqualification of any of the candidates involved, at least for the purposes of next month’s presidential election. I anticipate cases dying a natural death after the election. It is a case of “if you Tarka me, I give you”.

LEADERSHIP reports that the above reference relates to two middle belt politicians of the second republic, Joseph Tarka and Godwin Dabo, who were bitter political rivals.

Some lawyers who spoke to LEADERSHIP said that since the two political parties have approached the court to investigate their respective allegations, the court should be allowed to review the issues.

A senior lawyer for Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Abdul Balogun, said that it is good that allegations are flowing here and there.

“I am confident that the court will do justice in this matter as the parties are before the court. If I may say, this type of development is good for the country and will make Nigerians determine the type of leaders they want for the country.

“I don’t expect these cases to have been determined before the next election and I believe that even if it is not decided, it cannot be overtaken by the event because whoever gets elected next month still has until May 29 to take office and immunity.” can’t cover it until then,” he said.

For her part, Kayode Enitan, SAN, said that the tug of war should have very serious implications, but unfortunately it won’t because it will be outweighed by the ongoing politicking.

The lead counsel also noted that neither law enforcement agency will do anything that could be construed or misconstrued as partisan for or against either of these two candidates.

Enitan stated: “If the agencies take action on the allegations, it would be seen as having great potential to unduly heat politics at this time. However, law enforcement agencies may have a different opinion after the election.”

Another lawyer, Barrister Eze Obiekwe, described the accusations by both sides against each other’s candidates as a distraction.

He called on both parties and their supporters to face the real issues and tell Nigerians how they intend to make their lives a little more comfortable.

“As far as I’m concerned, all these allegations are distracting and I don’t expect Nigerians to take them seriously. I see all these accusations as a distraction from the real problem and the problems facing the nation. We can continue like this; Nigerians are tired of all these dramas,” he said.

Lawyer Abdullahi Bello Abu, another lawyer, said Nigerians should not be distracted; rather, they should hold candidates accountable for their promises after the election if they fail to deliver on their campaign promises.

Atiku and PDP clone media house sites to spread fake news, Tinubu alleges

Meanwhile, APC presidential candidate Bola Ahmed Tinubu has charged that the PDP and its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar have honed plans to spread Hausa-language fake news against him.

This, he said, they have done by cloning the websites and social media accounts of popular newspapers and blogs.

He accused the PDP of deploying its mercenaries on social media, who started posting their nefarious content by faking and using the social media accounts of popular newspapers and blogs to spread fake news with the sole aim of deceiving gullible Nigerians.

In a statement released yesterday by APC Presidential Campaign Council Media and Publicity Director Bayo Onanuga, the APC standard-bearer noted that the PDP had also recruited many social media actors to carry out its smear campaign for powers.

Onanuga said: “We want to alert Nigerians to the sinister moves and plans orchestrated by the opposition People’s Democratic Party to unleash a wave of fake news, especially in the Hausa language, to slander, defame and delegitimize Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the APC formerly Nigerians.

“This smear campaign of the PDP has already been honed with a dedicated team working around the clock from the PDP national headquarters at Wadata House, Abuja.

“Many parody social media accounts such as ‘Vanguard Hausa’ and ‘Daily Trust Hausa’ have been created and are also used to spread fake news on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and other digital platforms.

“On Facebook, we discovered that Daily Trust Hausa was first created as KRK Media on August 9, 2021. It changed its name to Daily Trust Media on December 7, 2022 and has a fake website address, daily.com.

“A second Daily Trust Hausa Facebook account was created on August 13, 2022 as Facos News Hausa, with the aim of publishing posts about musicians. It changed its name on December 29, 2022, just 22 days after its other clone. Vanguard Hausa was created on December 21, 2021. Its website could not be opened.

“All these parody Facebook accounts were used by the PDP on Saturday to post malicious fake news about the arrest in Lagos of trucks carrying old Naira notes belonging to Tinubu.

“To clarify, the Daily Trust publishes an article in Hausa called Aminiya, which is also on Facebook under the same name. We are not aware of Vanguard having a similar publication.

“We implicate the two newspapers, Daily Trust and Vanguard, to inform Facebook and Meta that they have been cloned by fake news peddlers, for political offensives, masterminded by the PDP.”

Tinubu further alleged that the evil plot is aimed at manipulating Nigerians, especially Northerners, into looking down on him, as the only way for the PDP and Atiku to hone their chances in the upcoming presidential election.

“The PDP and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, know that they cannot win the next elections. They also know that Nigerians will never vote for the PDP to take over the leadership of Nigeria after inflicting 16 years of misery on Nigerians.

“As Atiku’s presidential campaign is headed for failure, the PDP hopes in vain to avoid imminent electoral defeat by sponsoring a coordinated fake news attack on APC, our presidential candidate and even the government.

“We use this medium to urge Nigerians and especially our compatriots in Northern Nigeria not to be fooled,” he said.