President Muhammadu Buhari has frowned on the use of religion and ethnicity by some Nigerians to deceive others to either promote corruption or stand in the way of justice, saying “this is bloody nonsense”.
His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in a statement on Monday, said Buhari spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Sunday night, when he hosted former employees who worked with him during his tenure as military Head of State from January 1984 to August 1985.
The ex-workers were led to the Villa by Buhari’s former aide-de-camp, Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo, an ex-Emir of Gwandu.
To buttress his point that some Nigerians only use ethnicity and religion for manipulation, the President shared a story of his electoral struggles from 2003 to 2011 at the courts.
He said while those who sat in judgment over his cases at the courts were fellow Muslims from the North, his lawyers were Christians from the South.
Buhari said, “I was recently forced to talk to somebody I respect a lot about Nigeria. I said in 2003, when I started, complaints about presidential elections used to start from the Court of Appeal. The President of the court then was my secondary school classmate for six years.
READ ALSO: My opponents can’t write their names correctly —Uba
“Himself, myself and (the late) 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 judgment 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 is now our ambassador to the United States.
“I petitioned the Supreme Court. Who was the Chief Justice? A Muslim, probably a Fulani, from Zaria. After 27 months, we went. Ahamba addressed the court for two hours and 45 minutes. They went in, came out after about 45 minutes, and said they were going 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 Muslim. After 18 months, they dismissed the case. The third time, who was the CJ? A Muslim, 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 us pray to God that we maintain our faith. That is all we have.
“I try to do my best, and pray to God to help me. May God Almighty give us the means to continue to do our best for the country. Whatever religion we follow, let us do it seriously, as finally, we would appear before God. Whether we believe it or not, it will happen.”
Buhari told his visitors that he was emotional about the reunion because he had not seen some of them since 1985 when he was removed from office in a coup by Gen Ibrahim Babangida.
On the late Maj Gen Tunde Idiagbon, his second-in-command before the coup that toppled his government, the President said Idiagbon demonstrated rare loyalty and fearlessness.
Buhari said, “He (Idiagbon) was in Saudi Arabia, performing 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. But 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 is no way you can describe such loyalty, such courage. May his soul rest in perfect peace.”
Speaking for the group, Jokolo recalled their regrets and disappointment over the coup that sent them packing from Dodan Barracks.
He said, “The fact that among us today are highly-respected royal fathers, businessmen, captains of industry, lawyers and a professor, speaks volumes that God is good and that the discipline and perseverance that we imbibed under Your Excellency’s tutelage had not been in vain.”