Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has absolved President Muhammadu Buhari of any complicity in the killings across the country, saying the president knows nothing about the dastardly acts.
General Gowon made the clarification yesterday, at the Plateau state Government House, Jos, during a condolence visit to Governor Simon Lalong, over the resurgence of violence in the state.
His position came as President Buhari accused the opposition of trying to blackmail him over the spate of violence in parts of the country.
He said, contrary to what the opposition Peoples Democratic Party believes, his administration was doing everything possible to stem the tide.
Thousands of people have been killed in the regime of violence, notably in Zamfara, Taraba, Nasarawa, Benue and of recent Plateau state, even amidst security presence in the affected states.
And speaking in defence of the president, Gowon said, “the Buhari I know will not be involved. Certainly, no leader will encourage his people to be killed,” faulting the social media for linking Buhari to the killings.
The statement which was posted on the WattsApp platform of the state Ministry of Information and Communications by its Commissioner, Yakubu Dati, said Gowon, decried the past practice where suspects arrested were taken to Abuja and eventually released.
“People arrested should be investigated and prosecuted in Jos where the crime was committed,” he said.
Responding, Governor Lalong said the state had reviewed its laws to prosecute offenders found wanting in the heinous acts, stressing that the relevant laws to try perpetrators of the recent attacks on the Plateau will soon be signed into law.
“We’ve reviewed adequate laws to prosecute offenders in Jos,” he said.
The governor appreciated General Gowon for standing by the state as a father, adding that efforts were on to restore sanity to the state.
“We will ensure the enthronement of sustainable peace on the Plateau,” the governor added.
Opposition blackmailing me – Buhari
Also exonerating himself of any blame, President Buhari said the opposition only wanted to use what he described as cheap blackmail against him over the farmers, herders’ clashes.
Buahri disclosed this while speaking yesterday in Ado Ekiti, at the campaign rally of the All Progressives Congress’ candidate in Ekiti state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in Saturday’s governorship election.
He appealed to Ekiti voters to cast their votes for Fayemi to secure their future and ensure the development of the state.
President Buhari cautioned the gathering against falling for the deceit of those trying to blackmail his person over the herdsmen and farmers clash.
“They are blackmailing me, saying I have not done anything about the farmers/Fulani herdsmen clashes because I am a Fulani man. But this is a cheap blackmail. We are doing everything to curtail the situation, and provide a lasting solution to the problem,” the president said.
Like a few other states, Ekiti enacted the anti-open grazing laws, which had remained the reason for the conflict between the farmers and the pastoral herders.
Besides, Governor Ayodele Fayose and his party –PDP, have consistently accused the president of not handling the situation rightly, accusing him of religious and ethnic bias.
But President Buhari, for the umpteenth time, dismissed their claim, describing it as a rather cheap blackmail.
To the electorate in Saturday’s election, the president urged them to look beyond “stomach infrastructure,” which is Fayose’s self-acclaimed policy of providing welfare for the indigent Ekiti people.
“Do not allow your future to be insulted by stomach infrastructure. Vote on Saturday, look beyond stomach infrastructure. Don’t waste your votes, vote for Dr Fayemi. I know Ekiti people cannot be brainwashed or deceived,” the president canvassed.
He said: “I am not here to only campaign, but also to urge the people of Ekiti state to embrace change.”
President Buhari told the crowd that the state had substantially received a fair share of federal government’s projects, including 13 roads, as well as housing projects, which he noted provided jobs for residents of the state.
Our correspondent observed that both the APC and PDP simultaneously held their rallies yesterday.
While the APC held its own at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, Ado-Ekiti, Governor Fayose held similar rally at the Government House, a development that caused heavy gridlock in Ado-Ekiti. the traffic congestion was further worsened following the blockade of some major routes for easy passage of the president, governors and other APC notables who came in from the Akure airport, and hit Ekiti by road.
It was gathered that the PDP rally, put together by Fayose, was to allegedly crumble the movement of APC supporters to the stadium, especially with mobilisation of the commercial bus and Okada operators to the Government House.
At the event moderated by Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the Diaspora, were National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; its pioneer chair, Chief Bisi Akande; the incumbent, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; governors of Ondo, Oyo, Kebbi, Kogi, Zamfara, Osun, Edo and Nasarawa states; as well as Mustapha Boss, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and some cabinet ministers.
In their separate remarks, Asiwaju Tinubu and Comrade Oshiomhole lauded the choice of Fayemi and slammed the opposition PDP for ruining the nation’s economy.
Tinubu said: “The party (PDP) stole all the money in the treasury. They ate the breakfast of the children. “Prices are up, yes, we agree, but who stole all the money? The PDP is a party of destruction. When they ate the tail and brain of the yam, where are they going to get the yam for lunch?”
While admonishing people of the state to ‘fall in line’ and join the APC train in the South-west, he assured them that a vote for Fayemi would right the wrongs of the Fayose administration.
Also speaking, Comrade Oshiomhole, who described Fayose as stealing Fayemi’s ‘mandate’ in 2014, assured that cases of all the victimized workers under the PDP-led government will be appropriately looked into.
A major highpoint of the event was the official presentation of the party’s flag to Fayemi by President Buhari.