Lemu Panel indicts Buhari over post-election violence

•Lemu submitting the committee’s report to Jonathan at the State House in Abuja ... yesterday. •Lemu submitting the committee’s report to Jonathan at the State House in Abuja … yesterday. It’s PDP’s game plan to paint CPC black, says spokesman

 

 

Oct 11, 2011 – Lemu Panel indicts Buhari over post-election violence –  The Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) presidential candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari yesterday came under the hammer over the post-election violence in some parts of the country.

 

The Sheikh Ahmed Lemu Panel said Buhari’s utterances contributed partly to the violence that erupted in the North in which scores died.

 

“Provocative utterances by many individuals and the widespread charge by prominent politicians including the CPC presidential candidate to the electorate ‘to guard their votes’ appeared to have been miscontrued by many voters to include recourse to violence which they did.

 

“However, a long interactive session was held between the CPC presidential candidate and a five-member delegation of the panel, led by the chairman, in the office of the CPC presidential candidate in Kaduna on September 14, 2011. It was discovered that the he himself was a victim of the violence and of the destruction of his property, the photographs of which were given to the said delegation,” the panel said in its report submitted to President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja yesterday.

 

Reacting, Buhari’s running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, accused the panel of being “insensitive”.

 

Bakare said: “It is an unfortunate comment and if anybody says that, he is insensitive.”

 

He said similar unguarded statements motivated CPC to sue presidential spokesman Dr Rueben Abati.

 

“Abati has been sued for saying things without cross-checking. If the panel has made any indictment, they are insensitive to the agony of Nigerians. When we see the report, we will take it up,” Bakare said.

 

Buhari’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin objected to the report of the panel, describing it as the continuation of PDP game to paint CPC black.

 

He said the panel’s findings confirmed that the President and his party were playing unnecessary politics with the fate of Nigerians whose vote did not count in the last general elections.

 

Odumakin said: “When the members of the Lemu Panel met Gen. Buhari, they praised him for being a statesman and patriot. Some of them betrayed their emotions when they met Gen. Buhari. Their report is now the opposite. I wish them goodluck.”

 

The panel also identified the zoning controversy, which started basically as an internal political affair of the ruling PDP, which changed the nature of the presidential election into ethno-religious contest particularly in the Northern states, as another cause of the violence.

 

The report blamed successive regimes for not acting on past reports on violence and civil disturbances, noting that this encouraged the wide spread sense of impunity in the culprits and perpetrators of violence.

 

It recommended that security agencies be ordered to fish out culprits of violence for prosecution, including previous offenders.

 

Other factors listed by the panel include the desire for change as a result of failure on the part of successive regimes to tackle various challenges facing the country.

 

The next major cause of violence and disturbances, according to the panel, is the lucrative nature of political office, which has turned politics to a do-or-die affair for which many politicians are seriously establishing private armies to execute.

 

The report noted that general insecurity of life and property also contributed to the violence.

 

It advised the Federal Government to address the socio-economic problems of the country to avoid a social revolution.

 

The panel said: “The first and probably most important cause is the failure on the part of the previous successive regimes since the military handover of power in 1999 to implement the recommendations of various committees, commissions and panels that had taken place in our nation. That failure facilitated the wide spread sense of impunity in the culprits and perpetrators of crimes and violence in the Nigerian society.

 

“We recommend to Your Excellency to order security agencies to fish out culprits of violence for prosecution. Your Excellency should also revisit those previous recommendations like the ones contained in the following reports.

 

“Babalakin Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Bauchi State Civil Disturbances; Karibi Whyte Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Kafanchan Disturbances; Niki Tobi Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Plateau State Disturbances; Justice Sankey Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Wase and Langtang Disturbances; Justice Disu Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Plateau State Disturbances; Professor Tamuno Panel of Inquiry on National Security; Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Committee.

 

“People indicted by the committees and commissions concerned should be prosecuted. These recommendations are based on what the panel observed from many victims of those previous disturbances which are nursing reprisals and have only been waiting for the slightest excuse to move into action which some of them did during the 2011 election violence and civil disturbances.

 

“The second major cause of the recent electoral violence was the existing widespread desire for change as a result of frustration and disappointment of many members of the general public regarding the inability of the successive past regimes to solve the problems of electricity power failure nationwide, deplorable state of Federal Government roads throughout the nation, bribery and corruption which have virtually been legitimised in all affairs of our nation.

 

Thus with regard to the remedy of bribery and corruption, we recommend that the Heads of the Three Arms of Government as well as other major stakeholders in Nigeria should come together and agree on the most effective way forward to avoid the impending catastrophe.

 

“Similarly, general insecurity of life and property in people’s houses and on the high ways and kidnappings are fuel to the fire of public frustration and disappointment. The true state of affairs could escalate to social revolution if preventive measures are not taken in time. In fact, the current sporadic demonstrations in educational institutions and by labour unions are all considered to be signals of more serious negative events to come. This assertion could be verified for your Excellency by the security agencies.

 

The next major cause of violence and disturbances is the manner in which political office holders have lucratised their respective positions at the expense of the nation. The panel discovered that the remunerations and allowances of the members of the legislature, in particular, are considered by stakeholders who addressed us or wrote to us about the issue to be outrageous. It has turned politics in Nigeria to a do-or-die affair for which many politicians of all parties are seriously establishing private armies to execute. In that respect, easy access to drugs, serious general poverty at the grassroots level and youth unemployment, in particular, are providing many foot soldiers ready for recruitment at a cheap rate. The security agencies could verify this assertion also.

 

“Generally speaking, the basic cause of the violence in nearly all the communities concerned is political. Ethno-religious sentiments were brought into the issue through negative campaigns and rumour mongering by unscrupulous individuals to achieve their ulterior motives.”

 

The panel recommended that basic education curriculum should henceforth contain – as a compulsory learning material for all students – the moral values of God fearing and of accountability before God which are derived from the Islamic and Christian teachings as well as civic and cultural orientation in line with section 23 of the Constitution.

 

It was impossible to ascertain the casualty figure and other victims not accounted for, adding that it considered this to be the work of professionals and has informed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) accordingly.

 

With regard to weapons used, the panel said for the crisis in the North, knives, axes, cutlasses, clubs were largely used, adding that in Akwa Ibom, there was “a tide of illegal flow of sophisticated weapons into the state, which were used in the violence”.

 

The panel recommended strict enforcement of all the laws and regulations concerning the use and trafficking of illegal arms while negligence of the security agencies should be sanctioned to act as a deterrence.

 

It urged the government to review the roles of the National Orientation Agency and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for more effective public enlightenment, politically, socially and economically.

 

Replying, the President described the work of the panel as critical to the country’s political history.

 

He said he agreed with the panel that ignorance played a huge role on the part of the perpetrators, saying, “looking at the result of the election, the states that I lost the election – Kano and Bauchi – where I had the least 16, 17 per cent were the ones that had most crisis.”

 

“Even if your recommendation did not prescribe punishment your report is there for other government organs to look into. I am also more interested in the preventive aspect of the recommendation than the punishment aspect. Yes people who commit offences must face the laws of the land but how do we prevent subsequent occurrence is the key thing that is dear to me.

 

“My interest is that in 2015 elections and beyond what must we do to make sure that what we experienced don’t happen again. I am quiet pleased you concentrated in that area. You raised the issues bothering on power sector because without power you cannot empower people economically, the economic situation, the roads, corruption and other issues, all these lead to one thing that if the economy improves and if people can go to school, surely some of these ugly incidences will be minimised and I agree with you.

 

“The social issues, of course you mentioned something bordering on compensation; we will look at it. You also mentioned the National Orientation Agency, we have been discussing we have to strengthen that agency to work closely with the Ministry of Information because government has a number of radio and TV stations in every state and we believe they should be able to use these stations to enlighten and educate Nigerians on security.

 

“But we have decided that even in the Jos crisis; in fact, just this morning I was saying to the Secretary to Government of the Federation, we are going to look at all the recommendations and we must issue white paper; heavens will not fall. Until government has the political will and encourage to do what is right no matter how painful it will be, the culture of impunity will continue and we want to reduce that culture of impunity so we will look at your recommendation and the Federal Executive Council will look at it and come out with a white paper.”

 

The Nation