The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) met with President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday and demanded the release of the former national security adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) and the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
It also made a call for all efforts to be made to secure the release of the remaining Dapchi schoolgirl, Miss Leah Sharibu who has been in Boko Haram captivity since February 19, 2018 when the insurgents abducted her and 110 other girls from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe State.
The president of CAN, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, in a speech called for a total adherence to the rule of law as 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 (retd) 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 said the release of both men would ease tension in the country and give credit to the administration from the international community.
“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’ organisations,” he added.
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.
“A total overhaul of the security system with a view to replacing security chiefs who have overstayed their welcome is imperative at this moment,” he said.
On the government’s anti-corruption war, Ayokunle urged the president to clear the negative impression that the war against corruption was targeted at other people save members of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Like we categorically noted here during our last visit, the wish of the people is for the war against corruption to be total and without discrimination. Not a few believe that the ruling party is becoming a safe haven to some corrupt politicians in their bid to escape the trap of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),” said Ayokunle.
However, he said the CAN leadership was impressed by Buhari’s effort to recover looted funds as well as implementing the bank verification number (BVN) and treasury single account (TSA) regimes.
“CAN commends your boldness and courage in implementing the BVN and the Treasury Single Account system. There is no doubt that the two policies have greatly helped in sanitising the system,” he added.
As Nigeria approaches another election year, the priest said 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.
“A presidential order to the police and other security agencies to be non-partisan, neutral and apolitical in the coming general elections, with a view to securing international respect and honour for our country in the comity of nations.
“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 will add to the accolades the country received from the conduct of the 2015 elections that brought you to power,” he said.
CAN also called on the president to ensure the restoration of peace and sanity in troubled spots in the country, especially in the states of Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Kaduna and Zamfara.
“The menace of bandits in states like Zamfara and Kebbi has become a nightmare, coupled with the unending killings by herdsmen in the North-Central geopolitical zone, especially in Plateau, Benue and Taraba states. Not only have these attackers killed hundreds of innocent lives on the Plateau, they are presently occupying homes of their victims in Gashish District of Plateau State.
“(The) appalling conditions in some of the Internally Displaced Persons’ camps are driving many into despair. Unarguably, the failure of the police to nip the activities of these criminals in the bud accounts for drafting of the military to quell civil insurrection.
“Other criminal elements amidst us like kidnappers and hired killers are still perpetrating their havocs as if might has become right. It is not yet UHURU, and the long walk to bidding farewell to these criminal acts is fraught with tedious bends,” he said.
The Christian body also called for more intelligence gathering by security agencies and “a total overhauling of the security system with a view to replacing security chiefs who have overstayed their welcome.”
Besides, it asked for the setting up of a judicial commission of inquiry to look into the killing of the late director of administration of the army, Maj. Gen. Idris Alkali (retd.), and the “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.”
For his part, spokesman for the president, Mr. Femi Adesina quotes Buhari in a statement as telling the CAN leadership 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.
Besides, the president assured CAN that the 2019 elections would be free and fair saying he had been a victim of fraudulent elections and beneficiary of free and fair election in the past.
Said Buhari: “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?”