On Thursday, The Presidency faulted the sources of information on which members of the House of Lords, the United Kingdom, based their recent letter on the killings in Nigeria.
The parliamentarians had, in a letter to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, dated September 14, and co-signed by Baroness Cox, Baroness Kennedy, Jim Shannon, Fiona Bruce, former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams and 14 others, asked the Commonwealth to conduct an impartial investigation into the killings in Nigeria and bring the perpetrators to justice.
They further expressed indignation over the killings by Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East and Fulani herdsmen in the Middle Belt region.
They also said the failure of the Federal Government to protect Nigerians was a breach of the Commonwealth charter therefore, requesting the Commonwealth to raise the killings with the Ministerial Action Group.
But in a statement by The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled, ‘British lawmakers, legal experts and campaigners should work with President Buhari, not fall for propaganda’ in Abuja, noted that not all those who provided the information that served as the basis of the letter were committed to democracy or the nation’s peaceful co-existence.
Shehu said, “At the same time as we take note of the lawmakers’ letter, it is also important to stress to our partners and colleagues in the United Kingdom that not all who press them have the best interests of either democratic governance or peaceful coexistence in mind.
He explained “For example, the former Nigerian Chief of Army Staff named and quoted in the letter as a source on military matters, relinquished that position some 40 years ago – in 1979.
“He was last in a government position 17 years ago in 2003 (as Minister of Defence). At that time, religious and ethnic riots erupted in two states of the federation, (2001 and 2002). These were violently and ruthlessly put down by the military under his authority, leading to the loss of thousands of lives and the displacement of some further 50,000 persons.
“He is, therefore, not a natural source of pressure for good governance.” He stated.
The President Special Assistant continued, “Another, signatory to the letter, is well-known to be associated with the Indigenous People of Biafra, a Nigerian-blacklisted terrorist group.
“The IPOB are running a well-known (source-of-financing-unknown) international campaign intended to damage the reputation of Nigeria and its government in order to further their cause of ‘independence.’ He jumped bail in Nigeria. He frequently travels on a Nigerian passport but urged his supporters to burn their passports!
“The IPOB barely mention their aims in their publicity; neither do they mention that their own leadership does not claim to be Christian. Yet, their media and lobbying campaign have focused near-exclusively on promoting matters related to Christianity in Nigeria, promulgating false claims that a government with 50 per cent of its cabinet and 50 per cent of its state governors who are Christian somehow works against Christians. He said.
He then made a call to his 'British friends' saying “We call on our British friends and colleagues to join us in addressing genuine solutions not pander to agents of anarchy.”
However, Shehu said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the Federal Government welcomed the seriousness of the letter and the attention paid to it by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group.
Expressing the government’s readiness to work with the lawmakers, the Commonwealth and all concerned parties to bring a lasting solution to herder-farmer clashes, and the threat posed to all Nigerians – and the Sahel region as a whole – from Boko Haram terrorists and their allies he said, “We ask our British colleagues to visit Nigeria, whether formally or informally to discuss all the points raised in their letter"