Chief Edwin Clark, an elder statesman and chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has slammed Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed for claiming that “without President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria would have been an Islamic state.”
Clark, who said that Lai Mohammed had made another error, urged him to establish bridges between the Federal Government and the Nigerian people rather than increasing and expanding the chasm.
Clark, a former Federal Minister of Information, stated that Lai Mohammed was prompted to make the assertion because Nigerians have not refuted his claim that President Buhari’s government was responsible for the Boko Haram group’s expulsion from the state’s fourteen local government areas.
Clark revealed how he supported former President Goodluck Jonathan when three North-East governors accused him of supporting Boko Haram to murder Northerners, particularly those of Hausa/Fulani and Kanuri ancestry. Lai Mohammed was one of Jonathan’s traducers, according to Clark.
“It is crucial to stress that Boko Haram was ejected from the fourteen local government areas of Borno State by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government via the involvement of joint forces aided by paid mercenaries,” he said in an Abuja statement.
“Prior to the period the sect was expelled, they were occupying fourteen local government areas in the state. As a matter of fact, it was as a result of this that the elections could not be conducted at the initial scheduled date and had to be postponed. It was this effrontery of making the state not to hold its functions that made the then government to take the bull by the horn and flushed out the Boko Haram group out of Nigeria.
“It is, therefore, not true that it was President Muhammadu Buhari that expelled Boko Haram out of 14 local government areas of Borno State.
“It must be remembered that some Nigerians believed that the Boko Haram sect will be used to harass and torment President Goodluck Jonathan, getting him out of office. Even when it was suggested then that there should be a meeting to see the possibility of having negotiations between the Nigerian state and Boko Haram, the sect chose Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) as he then was, as their chief negotiator, even though a few days after the choice, he (Gen. Buhari) rejected the sect’s choice of him.
“There were no accusations the APC did not level against President Jonathan then, including criticising him for killing innocent Northerners through the sponsor of Boko Haram.
“Meanwhile all these were fabricated lies from the pit of hell, against an innocent man whose only offence is that he as the president and commander-in-chief of the armed force of a country, where some people think they alone have the exclusive right to be in that position.
“I remember the altercations I had with three governors of the North-East, namely Admiral Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State; Kashim Shetima of Borno State and Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State, on their accusations of President Goodluck Jonathan as the promoter of Boko Haram to kill Northerners, especially those of the Hausa/Fulani and Kanuri extraction.
“I rose up to the occasion defending President Jonathan, because he was innocent. It was just a true case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Also, amongst these Dr. Jonathan’s traducers, was Alhaji Lai Mohammed.”
Clark cited some of the sentiments attributed to Lai Mohammed and several Northern leaders while Boko Haram was wreaking devastation in the country when Jonathan was president.
“The same administration that is evidently supporting the activities of Boko Haram has openly defied good guidance and claimed it will never negotiate their release,’ he added, citing Lai Mohammed’s accusations against President Jonathan’s government.
Clark said that “those who never wanted him (Jonathan) in office and those who never liked him, were basking in joy because their handiwork was succeeding. And actually, nurtured the group to be more daring in any way possible including people who made statements that fanned the embers of their activities, like Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
“But like the saying goes what goes around, comes around, they never knew they were raising what is like the proverbial Frankenstein monster. What they created became uncontrollable and returns to haunt them.
“Today, part of Niger State in the North-Central geo-political zone is occupied by Boko Haram. The governor of the state, Dr. Abubakar Sani Bello, has cried out several times about this. The insurgents have hoisted their flags in parts of the state, collecting levies and taxes from farmers before the later will not only be allowed to go about their business, but to also enable them live in peace.
“Only recently, on 19th December, 40 innocent persons were gruesomely murdered in Kaduna State by terrorists, in a state that has very major state security installations. These are not imaginary persons; they are sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, relatives of persons. In fact, the names of 29 of them were published, the rest were yet to be identified. Just a few days ago, there were rocket explosions at different locations when the president visited Maiduguri. Yet, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, InformationMinister, isnotseeing this; what he keeps seeing in his imagination is his warped images of 2015.
“It is blatant falsehood for Alhaji Lai Mohammed to claim that but for President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria would have been Islamised, that it was President Buhari government that sent Boko Haram out of the fourteen local government areas in Borno State.
“Of course, no patriotic Nigerian will believe Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s statement that it is President Muhammadu Buhari that prevented the takeover of Nigeria by Islam, rather, most Nigerians have the strong feeling that it is his government that has given or created the environment for the sect to return and be more daring. With all the menacing activities of this group, no armed herdsmen have been arrested. Is it by coincidence?
“I want to reiterate that the spokesmen of President Muhammadu Buhari are his albatross.
“As Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed should be building bridges, instead of widening and expanding the gulf.”