Barrister Solomon Dalung, a Jos based lawyer, is a prominent member of the Northern Elders Forum(NEF), human rights activist and defender of democracy and civil rule. In this interview with ALIYU ASKIRA in Jos, the former university lecturer speaks on the controversial plan of President Goodluck Jonathan to contest in 2015, the security challenges in the north the ongoing confab
Islamic mode of dressing
I have two heroes in my life, they are late Dr. Nelson Mandela and Malam Yasser Arafat. These men were great humanists by all standard, they lived and died in the cause of fighting for justice and freedom of association. The fact that I am a Christian does not make me a fanatic. I am a human rights crusader and lawyer, most of the cases I handle attract no fees, all I want is justice. Even though we don’t have Muslims in my family, I like wearing long caftan and scarf to remember Yasser Arafat and other good men of conscience.
My grouse against FG
Partially, you have answered yourself. You said I am always critical of any government that is not performing. Why not? Do you want me for example to go to the village square to dance naked because President Jonathan is a Christian or a minority? This government is the worst since independence. What you read in the papers always is either massive cases of corruption, maiming or killing of innocent people, especially in the North East. Sixty percent of Borno state, 40% of Yobe, and 30% of Adamawa states destroyed. The question we are asking is who are the people killing us? And why are they killing us? The duty of any legitimate government is to protect the lives and properties of its people. President Goodluck Jonathan has failed in every sphere. Let him not attempt to contest in 2015, if he contests and loses there will be trouble, if he contests and wins, there will be trouble. The only way out is for him to go home in 2015 after inflicting serious injury on the ethnic, religious and tribal psyche of the nation.
Jonathan’s right to second term in 2015
I am a lawyer and Nigerian constitution says a president or governor cannot be in office for more than eight years. The constitution is not bothered that when late President Umaru Yar’Adua died, what President Jonathan did was to complete his tenure. By 2015, Goodluck Jonathan will be eight years in office as president, having been sworn into office as executive president twice. The logical thing to do was for him to allow the north complete late Yar’Adua’s term in 2011, then power can shift to the south according to the PDP zoning formula. I am a founding member of PDP but the President with the assistance of his godfather, former President Olusegun Obasanjo declared that there was no zoning in PDP. Though today, they broke ranks, and most of what former President Obasanjo wrote in his famous letter are true. He (Obasanjo) did not help matters in 2011, he did not behave as a statesman and he gave us a bad product.
Do you see yourself coming under any threat of attack?
Most of those who went to court to stop the president from contesting in 2015 did a bad legal case. We in the Northern Elders Forum(NEF) and those in the human rights community are waiting for the President to declare. We have the letter he wrote and signed that he will not seek re-election in 2015, if he declares today, tomorrow, we are going to publish the letter in major national dailies for everybody including members of the international community to see.
As for my life, I was attacked ten times and during one of the attacks, about 40 bullets were fired at my car. I am amazed up to date how I survived. My belief is nobody can kill me a second to the time God decreed or neither can I live a second after my appointed time. I have one wife six children, a house worth N4million at the time I bought it in Jos and one in my village. I have two cars and I was a former Chairman of Lantang South local government, I have Masters Degree in law and a former lecturer in University of Jos and 50 years old. That is me, let them come and kill me. Some children die during birth, I am 50 years old, I thank God for that.
Dragging Jonathan to Hague
Already, we are working on a strong detailed petition to the international Court of Justice in The Hague about the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, General Azubuike Ihejirika, and we have documentary evidence on that. Apart from the massive killings, destructions, rapes and what have you. A village called Baga was completely wiped out, its people killed, young and old and there was mass burial later which was captured by local and international media. That criminal act was perpetrated by the Nigerian military under the command of General Ihejirika and of course President Jonathan who is the Commander In-Chief, gave the final order for that slaughter. That was pure genocide and so if we charge General Ihejirika when the President finishes his tenure, of course we are going to charge him and his will be worst as there are several cases of rapes brutal murder and maiming that took place in several parts of the North under him.
Coming out of the present mess
The Presidency must come to the North. Presently, I am not a card carrying member of any party but if APC wants to form the next government, let them forget about Buhari/Tinubu ticket. What we want is not Muslim/Muslim ticket, and don’t cite 1993 of late Abiola/Kingibe for me as an example. Things were quite different by then. Always read what PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh is saying. That man is dangerous, that guy can do anything, he will create panic in the mind of Southerners and Christians to reject APC. Already, he is labeling APC a Muslim party, a Boko- Haram party. To defeat them, I will prefer APC to field a Christian President from the North and Muslim vice from the south.
Why he’s not at the National Confab
Oh, the come and chop conference. I called it tea party conference. We met in Kano before the conference kicked off and called on our people to boycott it. Those who went there from north are on their own. Of course, we knew that some went out of greed but the conference will create more problems than solving those already existing. On why I am not there, I was not invited and even if I was invited, quote me, I will not go near it. It’s a jamboree of old men and women, nothing good will come out of it this, I can tell you. It was an afterthought by the president to cover his failure.
Probing Jonathan’s regime after his tenure
If the next government fails to do that, I can bet you that we in the human rights community will initiate that. A times, I use to wonder if the president is actually in his proper frame of mind. How can his CBN Governor alert him that $20billion oil proceeds was not remitted to CBN by the NNPC, instead of arresting and prosecuting the minister and GMD of NNPC, he sacked the whistle blower, that is Sanusi Lamido Sanusi? Before that, there was the pension scam, Stella Oduah scandal, Farouk Lawan scandal, Nuhu Ribadu NNPC report, police pension fraud. Under Jonathan, people don’t steal even in billions, they now steal in trillions. Even a fool, quote me, knows that this president has a case to answer after his tenure. In states like Adamawa and Benue, there were allegations that some Fulanis attacked the local people there with chemicals suspected to be chemical weapons. Where will local illiterate Fulani get that or AK47? There were also cases of helicopter dropping arms and food stuffs to people in the bush on operation apart from government who can afford helicopter. We have three Boko-Haram: the real Boko-Haram, the political Boko-Haram that has criminals and armed robbers, then the government Boko-Haram that uses helicopter and AK-47.
If President seeks your advice on 2015, what do you tell him?
First, I will consider it an honour, but I would tell him not to contest because he has failed everybody. Recently, I was shocked when the Senate wanted to give the President a leeway to initiate a new constitution. Their plan is for him to get the chance to smuggle the Abuja confab into the constitution so that he will be a lifetime president. We know his foot soldiers In the Senate and in the Confab. He will use his cohorts for the Confab to make funning recommendations that will be injected into the 1999 constitution. Our Senate has disappointed me. How can they surrender their powers to the Executives?