President Muhammadu Buhari says the act of perpetuating corruption and injustice under the guise of religious and ethnic affiliations is “bloody nonsense”.This was contained in a statement by Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, issued on Monday.
According to Adesina, Buhari made the remarks at the Presidential Villa on Sunday night, when he hosted his former staff who worked with him when he was military head of state between January 1984 and August 1985.
In his remarks during the visit, the president went down memory lane, drawing lessons from his electoral battles at the courts in 2003, 2007, and 2011, where those who ruled against him were Moslems from the North, but those who defended him were Christians from the South.
His words: “I was recently forced to talk to somebody I respect a lot about Nigeria. I said in 2003, when I started out, complaints about presidential election used to start from the Court of Appeal.
“The president of the court then was my classmate in secondary school for six years. Himself, myself and Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, were classmates. My lawyer, Mike Ahamba, was Roman Catholic and an Igbo man. My first witness was in the box. Ahamba said he needed the register of voters in certain constituencies and states to prove that votes were just allocated, and not a true reflection of what existed in the constituencies. He asked them to record his request and sign. They did so.
“When they came to give judgement later, the matter was not mentioned at all. In the panel was another Roman Catholic and Igbo, who raised his hand and said, this is what Buhari’s lawyer had said. Did we write to those constituencies and states to submit the register? If so, why is it not in the judgement? They just shut him up. He had to write a minority judgement. Of course, he’s now our ambassador to United States.
“I petitioned the Supreme Court. Who was the Chief Justice? A Moslem, probably a Fulani, from Zaria. After 27 months, Ahamba addressed the court for two hours and 45 minutes. They went in, came out after about 45 minutes, and said they were proceeding on vacation the next day. They were away for three months, making it 30 months in all. When they came back, they dismissed the case within 45 minutes.
“In 2007, they repeated the same thing. Who was the Chief Justice? A northerner and Moslem. After 18 months, they dismissed the case.
“The third time, who was Chief Justice? A Moslem, a Fulani man from Jigawa. After eight months, he dismissed the case. This bloody nonsense about Nigeria on ethnicity and religion is just corruption, pure and simple. Wherever we find ourselves, let’s pray to God that we maintain our faith. That’s all we have. I try to do my best, and pray to God to help me. May God Almighty give us the ways and means to continue to do our best for the country. Whatever religion we follow, let’s do it seriously, as at the end, we would appear before God. Whether we believe it or not, it will happen. So, we better continue to behave ourselves.”
President Buhari did not mince words in praising Major General Tunde Idiagbon, his second-in-command whom he said showed courage, loyalty when his administration was removed.
“He (Idiagbon) was in Saudi Arabia, performing the hajj, when we were removed.The Saudi king said the coup was not just against us, but also against him, since Idiagbon was praying with him. He asked him to send for his family to join him in Saudi until it was clear where I was. Idiagbon said ‘No, I want to go back, Your Majesty. If they kill him, let them kill me also’. He joined the next flight and came back. I think there’s no way you can describe such loyalty, such courage. May his soul rest in perfect peace,” Buhari said.
The President also commended the efforts of Mustapha Jokolo, his former aide de-camp who organised the reunion saying the meeting was an “emotional one” for him.
In his remarks, Kokomo recalled the experience they all went through when the government was toppled. He said although their removal from office was “unexpected and disappointing, if not regrettable, they had since moved on with their lives, though painfully aware that they were victims of misplaced aggression”.
“The fact that among us today are highly respected royal fathers, businessmen, captains of industry, lawyers and other specialists in the professions, and a university professor, speaks volumes that God is good and that values of discipline and perseverance that we imbibed under Your Excellency’s tutelage had not been in vain,” he added.