Former Governor of Zamfara State and Senator, Ahmed SaniYerima, was yesterday arrested and held for four hours for allegedly making inciting statements in Kaduna during a Radio Nigeria phone-in program in Hausa titled ‘HannuDayawa’.
The former governor had, during the programme, stated that “if there is any attempt by anybody or in any quarter to refuse the APC registration, we can go as far as having a peaceful protest 24 hours until our demand is granted”.
The statement forced the Kaduna State commissioner of police, Mr. Olufemi Adenaike, to personally drive to the Radio House with armed policemen; he seized the audio recording of the interview and directed the former governor to report to his office.
Senator Yerima was arrested at 12 noon and released at 4pm.
He was released into the hands of the Speaker of the Zamfara State House of Assembly and gave newsmen copies of the statement he made to the police, which read in parts:
“Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Kaduna invited me for a phone-in programme which took place today (9th March 2013) at 10am and ended at 12pm.
“I was asked if there is any move not to register our new party, the APC, what can we do? And my response was that if we met all legal requirements and INEC refused to register us, we shall embark on peaceful protest to INEC until we are registered. Then, the moderator asked me what I meant by peaceful protest? I responded by saying just like it happened in Egypt.
“We can go to Eagle Square together with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau and others to mobilize people without using any weapon for a peaceful protest until our party is registered.
“The police asked me, assuming our peaceful protest is not yielding the desired result, what do we do next? And my answer to the question was that, ‘we are practicing democracy in Nigeria. If the president of Egypt can yield to the pressure of his people in a peaceful protest, I am sure that with the integrity of Prof. Jega that I know personally, he will yield to the people’s pressure and make sure so long as we met the requirements, we are registered.
“The police further asked that, knowing the security situation in Kaduna and that being a PDP state, don’t I think that some people may read meaning to it or try to make mischief? My answer to this question is that , we are talking of registration of a political party and the process has not even been completed and there is no attempt by INEC because we have not even applied for registration.
“However, I am surprised to be invited by the police because the programme was carried live and as a former governor and Chief Security Officer of Zamfara State, a distinguished senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will never call for violence, never participate in violence and never support violence in Nigeria, my dear country.
“For the eight years I served in Zamfara State as governor, even with the implementation of Sharia, there was never violence between Muslims and Christians because of my firm belief in peaceful coexistence. So, whoever called the CP from Abuja is the one trying to be mischievous and cause crisis in Nigeria”.
However, the commissioner of police denied that the senator was arrested, but was merely invited to make clarifications over a statement he made on radio.
He also accused journalists of “blowing issues out of proportion”.
“Put yourself in my shoes, you are a commissioner of police in a state and you start receiving calls from concerned citizens that somebody had made an inciting statement on radio; will you go to Burukutu (locally made beer) joint? No, you have to make a move. All I did was to go to the radio and I gently met the distinguished senator and said, ‘Please I want to know what you said.’
“And he said no problem. But I am surprised at what people are saying: that I arrested the senator.
“I don’t what anything to happen in my domain. Am completely satisfied with what he has said. And he is free to go. There was no directive from anywhere. We were doing things on our own”.