Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Letter to Jonathan...al-Mustapha Replies Obasanjo

Photo: Leadership
Olusegun Obasanjo former president of Nigeria and President Goodluck Jonathan

Abuja, Kaduna, Makurdi and Lagos — Major Hamza Al-Mustapha yesterday challenged Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to produce evidence on his claims that President Jonathan interfered with the murder trial of the late General Abacha's former chief security officer.

Al-Mustapha, who is abroad, also denied being used to run an assassination squad to target Jonathan's political opponents ahead 2015 elections.

In his December 2 letter to the President, Obasanjo said Jonathan interfered with the court process to set a murderer free, and organised a presidential reception for him.

The former president did not name names, but it was obvious he was referring to Al-Mustapha who was freed by the Court of Appeal in July over the murder of the late Kudirat Abiola.

Al-Mustapha's counsel Barrister Olalekan Ojo yesterday challenged Obasanjo to produce evidence to support his claims.

In his 18-page letter to Jonathan, Obasanjo said: "Presidential assistance for a murderer to evade justice and presidential delegation to welcome him home can only be in bad taste generally but particularly to the family of his victim.

"Assisting criminals to evade justice cannot be part of the job of the presidency. Or, as it is viewed in some quarters, is he being recruited to do for you what he had done for Abacha in the past? Hopefully, he should have learned his lesson. Let us continue to watch."

In his reaction, Ojo told Daily Trust: "To the best of my knowledge, President Jonathan never organised or sponsored any welcome rally to Al-Mustapha after his release."

Al-Mustapha had been in detention for 14 years before he was acquitted by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, after being sentenced to death by a Lagos High Court.

Ojo said, "The impression (of Obasanjo's letter) is that the Court of Appeal caved into pressure from President Jonathan, to that extent, the comment is disturbing, worrisome and unwarranted.

"The judiciary should be left alone and not be dragged into politics. The Justices of the Court of Appeal in Lagos that sat over the case are jurists of impeccable character and it is not fair for anybody, no matter how well-placed, to attack the

integrity of these judges. We challenge Obasanjo to produce evidence of such interference to make it available to the public."

He added: "My client was discharged and acquitted on the merit of his appeal. Majority of those who commented on the judgment expressed satisfaction. It is most unfortunate that a person like OBJ could accuse the President of using his exalted office for such a sinister and morally reprehensible thing. It must be stated that if OBJ has any issue to settle with the President, he should not drag Al Mustapha into it."

On the allegation that Al-Mustapha is being used by Jonathan to run an assassination squad, Ojo said that the accusation was a demonstration of the enormous hatred Obasanjo harboured for Al-Mustapha.

"At no time has he been involved in any such thing. It is totally false. Al-Mustapha is earnestly committed to the promotion of peace and harmony in Nigeria. It is most unfair that such an allegation should be made against him. It is an attempt to give a dog a bad name to hang him. When Al-Mustapha returns (from abroad) he will make a fuller response," Ojo said.

Meanwhile, Obasanjo and Jonathan met yesterday at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, where they had a private breakfast together.

This was the first time they are appearing at the same place since Obasanjo's letter became public on Wednesday.

Jonathan and Obasanjo were in Kenya to attend its 50th Independence anniversary which was held yesterday.

Immediately after their breakfast, Obasanjo left for the venue of the independence anniversary.

No official statement was issued on the meeting.

Mind of Nigerians

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday said Obasanjo's letter to Jonathan represented the views of Nigerians.

ACF spokesman Anthony Sani said: "While it may be indecorous for the former president to leak altercations between him and a sitting president well known to be his political vassal, it is more indecorous for the presidency to resort to uncouth language for replies.

"And that is why I plead with the media and the public to concentrate on the issues raised and not on how they have been presented. On the whole, except perhaps the aspect of Mr President arming snipers, the former president has said what most Nigerians know."

Also yesterday, Vice President Atiku Abubakar urged leaders who Obasanjo said he consulted before writing his letter to intervene, to "reduce the tension created by former President Obasanjo's weighty allegations."

In a statement by his media office, Abubakar said he was nervous about the allegations made by the former President and that those elders mentioned by "Obasanjo had a moral duty to add their voices to the issue."

The statement said "the allegations were too disturbing to be treated with apathy by any political stakeholder like him. (Abubakar) said at a moment of national anxiety or uncertainty, leaders across the country should rise to the occasion and reassure fellow Nigerians about the future."

Abubakar added: "That said, it is on record that I have firmly fought for a democracy where the voters choose their future leaders, not political party bosses. If the incumbent President insists on continuing to destroy his own party with vindictive internal wars and thinks his record of rising youth unemployment, never-ending violence, corruption and scandals is worthy of another term, then he is welcome to run. We are confident Nigerians will exercise their democratic right to choose new leadership in 2015."

Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay, also expressed anxiety over the content of Obasanjo's letter.

On the alleged watch list of 1000 Nigerians and training snipers, Sagay said, "It is a very serious allegations and it could set the whole country on a state of alert and anxiety... the one that even frightens me most is the allegations snipers are being trained in the same school where the Abacha killer squads were trained and there are some Nigerians under political watch list.

"That is very frightening because it is not something you expect under a under a civilian democratic regime except under a military dictatorship. So, it is very frightening and I am very unsettled about it particularly given what happened to Prof. Iyayi whose cause of death has not yet been resolved. It is very, very disturbing."

Also, senior lawyer Femi Falana urged the Presidency not to dismiss Obasanjo's allegations.

"Instead of dismissing the contents of the letter the Presidency should respond to the allegations raised therein seriatim. In particular, the allegation that the Federal Government is setting up a Presidential Strike Force to carry out terrorist attacks on political opponents should not be swept under the carpet," he said in a statement yesterday.

But Falana said Obasanjo was also guilty of the kind of offiences he accused Jonathan of, including condoning corruption, ethnic politics and insincerity in covening a national conference.

Also speaking, Chief Ladi Rotimi-Williams urged Jonathan to take the corrections offered by Obasanjo in good faith and act fast to prevent the nation from drifting further.

"The President will be doing a great disservice to himself if he considers the content of the letter as insultive rather than taking appropriate action on the issue discussed," he said.

Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja branch, Mr. Monday Ubani, said Obasanjo's allegations were grievous. "And if those allegations are true, then something needs to be done very fast in order to nip all those things in the bud.

"Clearly, Nigeria is on the verge of liquidation and if you place over 1,000 people on watch list and you are going to use snipers to eliminate them as the President of the country, then that is very grave for this country," he said.

Former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, said the letter was quite "timely and appropriate."

Tsav, who spoke in Makurdi, urged the National Assembly to commence impeachment process against the president.

"The letter by Obj is timely and appropriate considering the deterioration of the quality of governance in the country and astronomical rise in corruption and the enhancement of the culture of impunity," he said.

"It is not malicious, self serving or hypocritical. Obasanjo has spoken the truth. He brought in Jonathan and has the right to advice and correct him if he veers off the path of honour as he is now doing."

by the Court of Appeal in July over the murder of the late Kudirat Abiola.

Al-Mustapha's counsel Barrister Olalekan Ojo yesterday challenged Obasanjo to produce evidence to support his claims.

In his 18-page letter to Jonathan, Obasanjo said: "Presidential assistance for a murderer to evade justice and presidential delegation to welcome him home can only be in bad taste generally but particularly to the family of his victim.

"Assisting criminals to evade justice cannot be part of the job of the presidency. Or, as it is viewed in some quarters, is he being recruited to do for you what he had done for Abacha in the past? Hopefully, he should have learned his lesson. Let us continue to watch."

In his reaction, Ojo told Daily Trust: "To the best of my knowledge, President Jonathan never organised or sponsored any welcome rally to Al-Mustapha after his release."

Al-Mustapha had been in detention for 14 years before he was acquitted by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, after being sentenced to death by a Lagos High Court.

Ojo said, "The impression (of Obasanjo's letter) is that the Court of Appeal caved into pressure from President Jonathan, to that extent, the comment is disturbing, worrisome and unwarranted.

"The judiciary should be left alone and not be dragged into politics. The Justices of the Court of Appeal in Lagos that sat over the case are jurists of impeccable character and it is not fair for anybody, no matter how well-placed, to attack the

integrity of these judges. We challenge Obasanjo to produce evidence of such interference to make it available to the public."

He added: "My client was discharged and acquitted on the merit of his appeal. Majority of those who commented on the judgment expressed satisfaction. It is most unfortunate that a person like OBJ could accuse the President of using his exalted office for such a sinister and morally reprehensible thing. It must be stated that if OBJ has any issue to settle with the President, he should not drag Al Mustapha into it."

On the allegation that Al-Mustapha is being used by Jonathan to run an assassination squad, Ojo said that the accusation was a demonstration of the enormous hatred Obasanjo harboured for Al-Mustapha.

"At no time has he been involved in any such thing. It is totally false. Al-Mustapha is earnestly committed to the promotion of peace and harmony in Nigeria. It is most unfair that such an allegation should be made against him. It is an attempt to give a dog a bad name to hang him. When Al-Mustapha returns (from abroad) he will make a fuller response," Ojo said.

Meanwhile, Obasanjo and Jonathan met yesterday at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, where they had a private breakfast together.

This was the first time they are appearing at the same place since Obasanjo's letter became public on Wednesday.

Jonathan and Obasanjo were in Kenya to attend its 50th Independence anniversary which was held yesterday.

Immediately after their breakfast, Obasanjo left for the venue of the independence anniversary.

No official statement was issued on the meeting.

Mind of Nigerians

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday said Obasanjo's letter to Jonathan represented the views of Nigerians.

ACF spokesman Anthony Sani said: "While it may be indecorous for the former president to leak altercations between him and a sitting president well known to be his political vassal, it is more indecorous for the presidency to resort to uncouth language for replies.

"And that is why I plead with the media and the public to concentrate on the issues raised and not on how they have been presented. On the whole, except perhaps the aspect of Mr President arming snipers, the former president has said what most Nigerians know."

Also yesterday, Vice President Atiku Abubakar urged leaders who Obasanjo said he consulted before writing his letter to intervene, to "reduce the tension created by former President Obasanjo's weighty allegations."

In a statement by his media office, Abubakar said he was nervous about the allegations made by the former President and that those elders mentioned by "Obasanjo had a moral duty to add their voices to the issue."

The statement said "the allegations were too disturbing to be treated with apathy by any political stakeholder like him. (Abubakar) said at a moment of national anxiety or uncertainty, leaders across the country should rise to the occasion and reassure fellow Nigerians about the future."

Abubakar added: "That said, it is on record that I have firmly fought for a democracy where the voters choose their future leaders, not political party bosses. If the incumbent President insists on continuing to destroy his own party with vindictive internal wars and thinks his record of rising youth unemployment, never-ending violence, corruption and scandals is worthy of another term, then he is welcome to run. We are confident Nigerians will exercise their democratic right to choose new leadership in 2015."

Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay, also expressed anxiety over the content of Obasanjo's letter.

On the alleged watch list of 1000 Nigerians and training snipers, Sagay said, "It is a very serious allegations and it could set the whole country on a state of alert and anxiety... the one that even frightens me most is the allegations snipers are being trained in the same school where the Abacha killer squads were trained and there are some Nigerians under political watch list.

"That is very frightening because it is not something you expect under a under a civilian democratic regime except under a military dictatorship. So, it is very frightening and I am very unsettled about it particularly given what happened to Prof. Iyayi whose cause of death has not yet been resolved. It is very, very disturbing."

Also, senior lawyer Femi Falana urged the Presidency not to dismiss Obasanjo's allegations.

"Instead of dismissing the contents of the letter the Presidency should respond to the allegations raised therein seriatim. In particular, the allegation that the Federal Government is setting up a Presidential Strike Force to carry out terrorist attacks on political opponents should not be swept under the carpet," he said in a statement yesterday.

But Falana said Obasanjo also committed the kind of atrocities he accused Jonathan of, including condoning corruption, ethnic politics and insincerity in covening a national conference.

Also speaking, Chief Ladi Rotimi-Williams urged Jonathan to take the corrections offered by Obasanjo in good faith and act fast to prevent the nation from drifting further.

"The President will be doing a great disservice to himself if he considers the content of the letter as insultive rather than taking appropriate action on the issue discussed," he said.

Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja branch, Mr. Monday Ubani, said Obasanjo's allegations were grievous. "And if those allegations are true, then something needs to be done very fast in order to nip all those things in the bud.

"Clearly, Nigeria is on the verge of liquidation and if you place over 1,000 people on watch list and you are going to use snipers to eliminate them as the President of the country, then that is very grave for this country," he said.

Former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, said the letter was quite "timely and appropriate."

Tsav, who spoke in Makurdi, urged the National Assembly to commence impeachment process against the president.

"The letter by Obj is timely and appropriate considering the deterioration of the quality of governance in the country and astronomical rise in corruption and the enhancement of the culture of impunity," he said.

"It is not malicious, self serving or hypocritical. Obasanjo has spoken the truth. He brought in Jonathan and has the right to advice and correct him if he veers off the path of honour as he is now doing."

Adelanwa Bamgboye, Isiaka Wakili, Misbahu Bashir, Hope Abah and Nurudeen Oyewole

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2013 Daily Trust. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

InFocus

Nigeria: Obasanjo Letter Causes Drama

Olusegun Obasanjo former president of Nigeria and President Goodluck Jonathan

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has written a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, addressing among others, the current political and security situation in the country. Read more »