ABUJA, NIGERIA (VOA)—Supporters of Nigeria's ruling party are calling on the Department of State Services, often referred to as Nigeria’s secret police, to name the politicians the agency says are plotting to set up an interim government to prevent the handover of power to president-elect Bola Tinubu.
Opposition parties continue to reject the outcome of the February presidential election in which Bola Ahmed Tinubu was declared the winner.
Felix Muoka, national publicity secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress, told VOA Thursday that the APC has yet to officially react to reports of a threat to the nation’s democracy.
The secret police, in a statement late Wednesday, said some Nigerian politicians were plotting to institute an interim government ahead of May 29 when President Muhammadu Buhari is due to hand over power to president-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The Department of State Services said the politicians are trying to "sponsor endless violent mass protests in major cities to warrant a declaration of State of Emergency and obtain frivolous court injunctions to forestall the inauguration of new executive administrations."
The DSS did not name politicians involved in the interim government plot but pledged to take legal measures against them.
The declaration of Tinubu as president-elect last month was rejected by the opposition People's Democratic Party and Labour Party.
Both parties have challenged the outcome in court and have been speaking to local television stations, calling Tinubu's election illegal.
Muoka voiced support for the DSS.
"There's been quite a lot of incendiary statements made by leaders of the opposition, in particular, leaders of the Labour Party,” Muoka said. “I think it is absolutely wrong and unpatriotic and in fact almost teetering on the edge of treasonable felony to instigate civil disobedience that may bring the country into severe crisis.”
Muoka added that the DSS is within its statutory authority to make arrests if it decides threats are sufficient.
“I am certain that the DSS will do everything within its authority to keep the peace in Nigeria,” he said.
Observers say the February elections lacked transparency. There were numerous reports of violence, voter intimidation and technical problems that caused delays.
But the DSS said in its statement the election was peaceful and that it is the alleged plot by politicians that could plunge Nigeria into crisis.
A civil society group, the Free Nigeria Movement, has been holding daily demonstrations in the capital to pressure the Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, and Nigerian authorities to review the February and March elections.
Tochukwu Ezeoke is a Labour Party presidential campaign member who took part in the protest. He said the protests are not politically motivated and that the DSS is applying a double standard.
"We're a group of Nigerians who have come together and are demanding that the right things be done,” Ezeoke said. “To be honest with you I'd say it smacks of hypocrisy that when something is coming from the ruling party they all feign ignorance. But on the other side when the citizens march the streets, then we get strokes. We are law-abiding citizens, if they want to arrest us, so be it."
Paul James, elections program officer at YIAGA Africa, a nonprofit promoting democracy, said the timing of the DSS statement is suspicious. He said people are demanding what they said didn’t represent their wishes and aspirations and is worried about the timing of the DSS statement.
“To the best that I know they have not constituted any nuisance,” he said about protesters.
Last week, the ruling party's presidential campaign spokesman and labor minister Festus Keyamo filed a complaint with the DSS about the opposition party's commentaries on local television stations.
The petition came after the Labour Party's vice presidential candidate, Yusuf Datti-Ahmed, told a station that Tinubu's election was a sham and said he must not be sworn in.