By George Agba
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday vowed that his administration will ensure that all cases of political assassinations, intimidation and kidnappings in the country are thoroughly investigated.
He said those found culpable would be speedily brought to justice, irrespective of their political affiliations.
The president, who stated this, while addressing state chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC), at a meeting in Aso Rock, noted that he remained fully committed to providing a level playing field for all Nigerians to get on with their daily lives or participate in electing their leaders, without fear of intimidation.
The president, who was responding to complaints of political intimidation and harassment by some of the APC state chairmen in states controlled by other parties, assured that his administration would continuously strengthen Nigeria’s criminal justice system to curb the reign of injustice and impunity in the country.
He cautioned the APC chairmen and other political leaders in the country to keep to prescribed legal processes for the resolution of political disputes and also advised them not to resort to violence, criminality and other forms of unacceptable behaviour in seeking redress for any perceived injustice.
“At every point, the law must be supreme and everyone must respect the law, if our democratic system is to survive. Injustice cannot survive for long; justice will ultimately prevail. We will make sure that those saddled with the responsibility of ensuring justice and equity do not rest on their oars.
“The only way we can sustain our democracy is to ensure that the law remains supreme at all times. If the law is upheld, people will have confidence that they can vote for who they want to vote for, without intimidation or threats. People must have protection to exercise their rights freely or we could be headed for anarchy.
“The police and the judiciary must ensure that justice is done in the country. We won’t allow impunity to continue in certain states, where the rights of the people are being violated. I have a personal commitment to fair play and respect of personal rights. This government will do all that is possible to enforce that.
“My address to the National Executive Council of the APC was very clear; we are now in the frontline, we are the party in government. We must lead by good example and consolidate on the gains of our democratic system,” Buhari emphasised.
The president also called on the state chairmen to work with the party’s elected officials to ensure that the APC delivers on its promise of better living conditions for all Nigerians.
Speaking earlier, leader of the delegation and chairman of the APC in Kano State, Umar Dogowa, explained that the APC state chairmen were on a visit to the Presidential Villa to reaffirm their support for President Buhari and his administration.
Dogowa assured the President that the state chairmen would uphold the values of the party, promote peace and unity in the country and also ensure that APC elected members fulfil their promises to Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the Presidency has clarified that even though the federal government is ready to consider any negotiation initiated by the Boko Haram sect, it would do so from a point of strength and not weakness.
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, noted in a statement that such a move by the federal government would not be novel, as the United States had also negotiated with the Talibans in Afghanistan at some point in time.
In the statement titled, “Amplification of comments on negotiations with Boko Haram”, Adesina said President Muhammadu Buhari had won the war against insurgency before and was going to win the war against Boko Haram.
“Most wars, however furious or vicious, often end on the negotiation table. So, if Boko Haram opts for negotiation, the government will not be averse to it. Government will, however, not be negotiating from a position of weakness, but that of strength. The machinery put in place, and which will be set in motion soon, can only devastate and decapitate insurgency.
“It is multinational in nature, and relief is on the way for Nigeria and her neighbours. President Muhammadu Buhari is resolute. He has battled and won insurgency before. He is poised to win again. It is a promise he made to Nigerians, and he is a promise keeper.
“But I say again, if the insurgents want to negotiate, no decent government will be averse to such. Didn’t the Taliban and Americans also negotiate in Afghanistan?” Adesina said in the statement.
Insecurity has tempered with national development – Okiro
The Chairman, Police Service Commission (PSC) and former Inspector-general of Police, Dr. Mike Okiro, has said that insecurity has slowed down the pace of the national developmental efforts and initiatives in the country.
Okiro, who stated this yesterday in Abuja, at the Emerging Business Destination Summit (EBDS) organised by African Legacy International, pointed out that security is the pillar upon which every meaningful development would be achieved and sustained.
He said that Nigeria is endowed with abundant resources, adding that negligence to numerous security challenges had contributed immensely to the slow speed of development.
According to him, “available evidence points to the fact that there are presently some quasi-military outfits in 33 out of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, Abuja. This readily suggests that our nation could be under siege so much so that successive governments and the Nigeria Police seem no longer able to contain the rising level of insecurity in the land.”
The Chairman of PSC, who listed communal violence, electoral violence, political assassinations, kidnappings/hostage taking, armed robbery, youth militancy in the Niger Delta, oil theft and Boko Haram, among others, as some of the problems affecting the well-being of the people, said that all these need to be addressed to enable the nation grow.
Okiro further said that out of the challenges mentioned, only Boko Haram had been classified as a terrorist group by the United States of America, USA.
“The United States Department of Defence sees terrorism as the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or the societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious or ideological,” he added.
Also speaking at the occasion, former Minister of Education, Prof Fabian Osuji, pointed out that education is the key that unlocks the potential of the individual, group or nation for social, economic and technological development.
Osuji, therefore, urged the government to invest substantial proportion of its national budgets in the provision of basic education.
The former minister, who spoke on the theme, “education is good business,” urged entrepreneurs across the country, who want to invest in private schools, to invest in primary and secondary levels of education.
Earlier, Chairman/Executive Director of African Legacy International, Engr Innocent Ogu, in a welcome address, urged participants to learn and explore the available opportunities at the summit to become more effective business leaders in their endeavours.
According to him, “the individuals or groups gathered here today will soon spread or metamorphose into chains, unity or associations that would tell the world that doing business in Africa is the best decision.”.