Olusola Fabiyi, Olalekan Adetayo, Eniola Akinkuotu, Friday Olokor, Adelani Adepegba, Olaleye Aluko and Olaide Oyelude
The Peoples Democratic Party, the Campaign for Democracy and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership on Monday attacked President Muhammadu Buhari following the Presidency’s rating of killings under the current regime as lower than those of the past PDP governments.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had said the abduction of the District Head of Daura, Alhaji Musa Uba, who is also the husband to President Buhari’s niece, Hajiya Bilki, showed that security agencies were not giving any town preferential treatment.
The abducted district head is also the father-in-law to Buhari’s Aide-de-camp, Col. Mohammed Abubakar.
Umar was kidnapped by yet-to-be identified gunmen at his residence in Daura, Katsina State last week Wednesday.
The President’s spokesman, who said this during an interview on Kakaaki, a breakfast television programme on the Africa Independent Television, argued that the number of people killed under Buhari’s watch was lower when compared with Nigerians that lost their lives under the past governments.
But the PDP urged Buhari to stop comparing the number of Nigerians killed under his administration with those of the party. Rather, the opposition party asked him to see the abduction of his town’s district head as an insult to the nation and a wake-up call for him to fight insecurity in the country.
Shehu had while responding to a question on the rising cases of banditry as evidenced by the abduction of the President’s in-law said, “Well, that has happened but I think that brings the message home that it is a national problem and that because the President comes from Daura, that is not to say there cannot be crime in Daura or Daura will be specially treated.
“The army said two days ago that there were clear pointers that these problems were beyond criminality.”
Shehu, however, scored the Buhari administration 98 per cent in the fight against insurgency.
He said, “If you ask me about the biggest security (challenge) we met on the ground, it is Boko Haram terrorism and I will score this administration 98 per cent coming this far because Boko Haram is now confined to the fringes of the Lake Chad. As a matter of fact, they jump in and out and mainly occupy communities that have not been re-occupied by their owners.”
Responding to a report by the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu’s, claim that 1,071 persons lost their lives in crime-related cases across the country in the first quarter of 2019, Shehu said despite the recent rising killings, banditry and kidnapping, the figure was still better than that of the previous administrations.
The President said although he would not want to compare figures, the facts remained sacred.
Shehu said, “Yes, there has been a recent rise (in attacks) but this is not to suggest that this has never happened in the country and they are beginning just now because President Buhari is out of the country.
“You mentioned the numbers but I want to say from our own point of view in the Presidency, we have avoided comparing numbers because it will lead to the same criticisms that some people have made of being insensitive because even if it is one life of a Nigerian that is lost, it is important, it cannot be justified, it cannot be defended.
“But anybody who takes the trouble to check the Presidential website; at some point Femi (Adesina) had done the numbers and the staggering numbers put on display coming from the past are nothing comparable to these numbers but we will not take it likely.”
He also defended Buhari’s decision to travel to the United Kingdom for 10 days during the height of insecurity.
Shehu said the President was entitled to rest even as he claimed that Buhari was in firm control of the nation while in the UK.
The President’s spokesman said security agencies were doing their best but noted that things would not change overnight but would take some time.
Let kidnapping of Daura district head drive you to action, PDP tells Buhari
But reacting to the Presidency’s claim, the PDP called on President Buhari to “wake up and realise that he is leading a country of about 200 million people.”
The party also asked the President to consider the kidnapping of the district head of Daura, as an insult to himself and the nation.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Kola Ologbodiyan, who spoke with The PUNCH, said the daring manner with which kidnappers had been operating in the country made the party to ask Buhari to return to Nigeria from London where he went for a “private visit” for 10 days.
Ologbodiyan said, “It is an insult that kidnappers could be that daring to the extent of going a few metres to his (Buhari’s) house and take away his district head.
“That is a worse form of insult to the President of a country like Nigeria. To us, nothing compares to that insult.
“This was one of the many reasons we asked him to abandon whatever he was doing in London and return home. If he had been asked how Nigeria was while he was there, what would have been his response?
“Now is the time for him to show that he still has energy, if he actually has, to work.
“We know that there were no bandits in this country, especially in the North-West before the elections. But they were the ones that brought mercenaries from other countries to this country for the elections.
“The President should therefore wake up and act as a leader, who is leading a nation of more than 200 millon people.”
Ologbondiyan also said it was sad that the Presidency could be comparing the number of deaths in particular administration with what was happening now.
While saying the PDP was not interested in the number of deaths before now, he said the President could quit if he felt the job was too much for him.
He said, “We are not interested in the number of deaths then and now because we are not morticians; we do not work at mortuaries. What we want is peace and a stop to the senseless killings in the country.
“The President came with a promise to change things positively. He did not promise that he would be taking the number of people killed in his administration and then compare the figure with other administrations when he is done.
“However, one thing is sure: we were not witnessing these daily killings, kidnappings, weeping, gnashing of teeth and sorrow during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan. They were never gang of failures.
‘If the President is tired as we could see now, he is free to throw in the towel.”
Buhari at risk of bandits’ attacks, say CD, CACOL
Also, two civil society organisations, CD and CACOL said if the Federal Government allowed the insecurity in the North-West to fester, the President might soon be attacked or abducted by the bandits.
The two organisations spoke in different interviews with one of our correspondents.
The CD National President, Usman Abdul, said, “Let me be emphatic. If President Buhari happened to be in Daura on that day when the bandits struck, the President might have been kidnapped also.
“Some of the pledges that the President made during the recent elections were things that bordered on security. Today, it is very unfortunate that the President’s in-law was abducted and the Senior Special Assistant, Garba Shehu, was lamenting.
“It is a shame that this government has not done enough to secure its citizens, which is its primary responsibility. On our part as a civil society organisation, we are not alarmed by Shehu’s statement because they have not met their primary responsibility to safeguard us and our property.
“It is laughable that this is the next level we are preparing for. Nigeria is at a crossroads. If Buhari was in Daura on that day, he might have been taken hostage too.”
Also the CACOL Director, Debo Adeniran, said, “What has happened in Daura and in that geopolitical zone may be due to intelligence gathering failure. If the intelligence system had been working, attacks would have been nipped in the bud.
“What I believe that the bandits want to prove is that if they wanted to get to our President, they could get him. Sometimes, the President goes to Daura to attend Muslim prayers and others. What the bandits are saying is that nobody is completely safe in this country. Also the security agencies must review their operational system.”
Presidency adding insult to Nigerians’ injury – ADC
On its part, the African Democratic Congress said it amounted to adding insult to Nigerians’ injury for the presidential spokesman to claim that the kidnap of the district head of the President’s town showed that security agencies were not giving any town preferential treatment.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Yemi Kolapo, said this in an interview with The PUNCH.
She said, “We are not talking about where these killings and abductions are taking place or who the targets are. What we are talking about is the increasing rate of insecurity in all parts of the country.
“By saying that what happened in Daura showed that no town is given preferential treatment, one will even think they stage-managed the kidnap so that they can say so.”
On the claim that the rate of killings under the present administration was lower than what was obtainable during the last administrations, Kolapo asked the Presidency to end the killings and stop comparing figures.
Sad, Buhari rationalising crimes, says MBYC
However, the Middle Belt Youth Council said it was sad that the Presidency could be rationalising crimes, saying Buhari was never serious about fighting crime.
Its President, Emma Zopmal, said, “At the outset of this menace, the Presidency was playing politics and pranks over insecurity, partly because it was not yet in their immediate domain. They were seeing it from afar so it did not really matter to them until now.” (Punch)