Nigeria: Abubakar Umar, Shehu Sani, Agbakoba Deny Membership of New Political Movement

Three prominent Nigerians who were named as being part of a new political movement have said they were not consulted before such announcement was made.

Abubakar Umar, a retired colonel and activist; Shehu Sani, a former senator, and Olisa Agabakoba, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, said they were not consulted before the political movement called National Consultative Front (NCF) was announced.

Messrs Umar and Sani spoke to PREMIUM TIMES in separate interviews while Mr Agbakoba released a statement.

PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that about 30 prominent Nigerian activists, academics, and other professionals, were named, on Wednesday, as members of the newly formed political movement ahead of 2023 general elections.

This was after a public communique signed by Anthony Kila, a professor, was made available to different newsrooms.

Mr Kila said the group came up after month-long nationwide consultations and virtual meetings.

Members of the group, as listed in the communique, include former speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na'abba; former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Obadiah Mailafia; Mr Agbakoba; Femi Falana; Mr Umar: Oby Ezekwesili; Jibrin Ibrahim; Yabagi Sanni; Nkoyo Toyo, Isa Aremu, Chidi Odinkalu, and Mr Sani.

Others are Remi Sonaiya, Tanko Yinusa, Shettima Yerima, Funke Awolowo, Peter Ameh and Lanre Banjo, among others.

Mr Kila said the movement would be citizen-driven and process-led in engendering a new peoples' constitution.

When contacted, Mr Umar said although he believes such a movement was necessary, he was not consulted.

"I was not consulted before I saw my name in the group," the retired colonel said, saying he may release a statement on the topic later.

Mr Sani expressed a similar view, saying although he agreed on the need for such movement, he was not consulted before his name was included.

Both men said they had a lot of respect for many of those mentioned as members of the movement.

Mr Agbakoba, in a short statement on Thursday, also denied being part of the newly formed group.

He said: "My attention has been drawn to a widely circulated story that I am part of a new political movement known as the National Consultative Front. Without prejudice to the need for such a political movement, I want to place it on record that I was not consulted and so I am not part of the National Consultative Front."

When contacted, Mr Falana declined comment about the movement although an associate said even he was not consulted.

Meanwhile, Mrs Sonaiya, a professor, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview that "truly a WhatsApp group was created for the aim of a political movement. But what surprised many was that the discussion has not reached a reasonable conclusion before it was made public. Some members did not expect that it would be made public so quickly even when we are yet to reach a reasonable conclusion."

"So, I can't say I am not part of the group. Just that, no one expected it to be blown that early. For me, I am part of any movement that will transform Nigeria for good," she told our correspondent.

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