A presidential order to release detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, topped the requests of the leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) as they met yesterday with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
Dasuki and El-Zakzaky are still being held by the authorities despite several court orders for their release.
CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, in a speech yesterday called for a total adherence to the rule of law as is required by the country’s constitution and democracy by making sure that those whose bails have been granted by competent courts “like Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and leader of the Shiites, Mallam Ibrahim El-Zakzaky are released from detention to enjoy the bail granted them by the courts of law.”
He explained that the release of both men would ease tension in the land and give credit to the administration from the international community.
CAN, while also demanding a total overhaul of the nation’s security architecture and the removal of service chiefs who, they argued, have overstayed in office, sought a halt to the use of live bullets by the military in quelling civil disturbances, adding: “A total overhaul of the security system with a view to replacing security chiefs who have overstayed their welcome is imperative at this moment.”
According to Ayokunle, as the nation approaches another election year, there is the need for a presidential order to the police and other security agencies to be non-partisan, neutral and apolitical with a view to securing international respect and honour for the country in the comity of nations.
He said: “The degree of desperation we saw in the politicians during the intra-party elections that took place recently do not give many people hope concerning 2019 unless serious steps are taken to let decency prevail.
“We appeal to you to make sure that the law enforcement agents and the election umpire do their work professionally without intimidation of voters, manipulation and any trace of violence throughout the period of elections. We believe that the survival and peace of Nigeria are greater than the ambition of any politician.
“We again request that your administration conducts free and fair election that would add to the accolades the country received from the conduct of 2015 elections that brought you to power.”
The Christian leaders urged the restoration of peace and sanity in troubled spots in the country, especially in the states of Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Kaduna and Zamfara.
They asked for the enhancement of security and flushing out of attackers in many towns as in Gashish District on the Plateau, in order to allow sacked communities in the various IDP camps return to their towns and villages.
“We urge your administration to invest more in intelligence gathering and ensure that our security agents work on them before the terrorists would strike,” they said.
Other demands by the religious body include: “An urgent resolution of the controversies on the ongoing dialogue over the new minimum wage.
“A concerted effort on the part of government to ensure Nigeria does not return to the dreaded economic recession.
“An appeal to all political parties to shun vote-buying with a view to letting the votes of the people count, come 2019.
“Setting up of a judicial panel of enquiry to look into the incessant killings in the north-central with a view to unmasking perpetrators and bringing them to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
“One of the terms of reference of the judicial panel, if accepted, should be to investigate the killing of the immediate Director of Administration of the Army, Major General Idris Alkali (rtd), and circumstances surrounding the kidnap and killing of the Paramount Chief of the Adara Chiefdom in Kaduna State, His Royal Highness, the Agom Adara, Dr. Maiwada Raphael Galadima.
“More importantly sir, issue a presidential order to the security agencies to secure the release of Miss Leah Sharibu, who has been in the captivity of Boko Haram, and the remaining 112 Chibok girls and other innocent Nigerians still held by terrorists organizations.”
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, yesterday, Buhari said that fighting corruption takes longer time especially with the need to adhere to the rule of law.
“It is on record that some cases initiated by the anti-graft bodies since 2003 are yet to be concluded. We will, however, not be discouraged. Where monies have been recovered, such monies will not find their way back to the looters as I have directed EFCC to account for every money it has recovered and put them in a dedicated account,” Buhari said.
On the request for an overhaul of the intelligence gathering system, Buhari said the burden of intelligence gathering involves everyone especially district heads, traditional rulers, opinion leaders and especially religious leaders that are very close to the grassroots.
He added that bandits who are operating in various communities live among the people and enjoined leaders of thought in various communities to avail security agencies of information about the criminals.
Buhari also told the visitors that he had assurances from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that the 2019 elections would be free and fair as he had been victim of fraudulent elections and beneficiary of free and fair election in the past.
“When I decided to put on this Agbada to see what the people are seeing in it, I tried three times, 2003, 2007 and 2011, but the fourth time, in 2015, I succeeded. We thank God and technology in the form of permanent voter card and card reader, because what they used to do was to look at constituencies, award the votes and then they will say whoever didn’t agree should go to court. When people are looking for what to eat, where do they have the money to go to court to pay the SANs?” Buhari said.
On farmers and herders clashes, Buhari told the visitors that government was working towards finding a lasting solution to them.
Besides, Buhari told Islamic leaders who visited him yesterday said that his government was determined to lay a foundation for free, fair and credible elections in the country.
Responding to a speech by a delegation of Imams and senior Islamic scholars from the 36 states of the federation at the State House yesterday, the president said that a number of measures put in place have seen the gradual improvement of elections, as in Edo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states from what he described as “dismal and unacceptable levels witnessed in Rivers and Kogi states.”
According to him, “What I want to assure Nigerians is that I will continue to pressure the police and other agencies to do their best to ensure a conducive atmosphere for free and fair elections.”
On the issue of security raised by the religious group, Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, yesterday, said he would continue to nudge security agencies to find lasting solutions, stressing however, the need for community and religious leaders to play a part in identifying criminals in their midst.
The president thanked the Muslim religious leaders for recognising the various achievements of the administration especially, in dealing with security, fighting corruption and progress in agriculture.
“I am satisfied with the progress in agriculture. Millions of our citizens have returned to the farms with many leaving white collar jobs for opportunities in agriculture,” he noted.
Buhari stated that his vision and objectives for Nigeria were very clear and he was on course to achieving them.
The president said he was doing his best to fulfill his electoral promises of securing the country, fighting corruption and resuscitating the economy.
The leader of the delegation of Imams and senior Islamic scholars, Dr. Khalid Aliyu, who is the Secretary General of the Jama’atul Nasril Islam, had lavishly praised the president’s achievements in key areas of his campaign in 2015 namely, security, corruption and the economy.
According to him, “So far, so good, government has gone a long way in meeting its promises.”