•Ex-Defence minister accused of leading Taraba gov to campaign against the president in U.S
Ade Alade, Abuja
As the dust raised by former Defence Minister, Gen. T.Y Danjuma over his charge to Nigerians to rise up and defend themselves against killer herdsmen is yet to settle, the retired Army General turned billionaire businessman is causing yet another discomfort for the administration of his bosom friend, President Muhammadu Buhari, this time in far away United States of America, where he is alleged to have led Taraba state governor, Darius Ishaku and others in meetings with policy think-tank members of the Trump administration and influential lawmakers on herdsmen killings in Nigeria.
Presidential sources told Saturday Sun that the activities of a group, International Committee on Nigeria, headed by Danjuma have begun to impact negatively on the Buhari administration in the U.S, with fears that such may ultimately hamper the sale of military equipment to Nigeria by the Trump administration. Aside Danjuma and Governor Ishaku, the sources further alleged that a recent meeting held by the duo with the American officials also include one Dr. Yakubu Turaki and Dr. Adeniyi Ojutiku of the Nigeria Working Group, USA.
The meeting was said to have resolved “to work and stand with Nigeria to stop impunity and killing of citizens of Nigeria.” It was gathered that Nigerian security agents suspected to be ‘diplomats’ from the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, were able to obtain pictures of one of the meetings as evidence, a copy of which was obtained by Saturday Sun and published below. The development has no doubt raised red flags within the presidency and the nation’s security circle. During the week, President Buhari in an unprecedented move, held security meetings with service chiefs and heads of security agencies three times.
According to one of the sources, “nothing has happened in Nigeria to warrant a campaign of calumny against one’s country and government in the name of defending one religion against another. President Buhari may not talk yet but we his people need to bring this act of treason to public knowledge because there is nothing like ethnic or religious cleansing in Nigeria, what we have is a security challenge and we expect a person of the status of T.Y to join hands with the government to solve it rather than going to U.S to whip up sentiment against the government. If it is a private meeting, what is the business of Governor Ishaku there? He was taken along to corroborate the allegation of ethnic cleansing and persecution of Northern Christians.
“Once the powerful forces could not stop the president from declaring his intention to run for a second term, they have now shifted their campaign to the international community to cause maximum damage and destabilize the administration.”
Officials and supporters of the Buhari administration believe that the campaign against the president in the international community influenced the recent U.S State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report, which indicted the Federal Government. The Report released last month recommended that Nigeria be designated as a “country of particular concern”, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) because, “religious freedom conditions in Nigeria remained poor. The Nigerian government at the national and state levels continued to tolerate violence and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, and suppressed the freedom to manifest religion or belief.”
Speaking in the same vein, spokesman of the Buhari Campaign Organisation, Festus Keyamo, SAN, said no amount of conspiracy by a group of retired military Generals will stop Buhari’s re-election in 2019. His words, “I only wonder what is the ulterior motive in all of these, because a person of such stature should know that there is no religious crisis or ethnic crisis going on in Nigeria and he ought to know better. What is going on in Nigeria is pure criminality, and we have said it over and over again that at that level we should expect that we should be shouting to douse this artificial tension in Nigeria. The tension is artificial, it is not real. There is nothing going on in real sense that suggests that there is anything like ethnic cleansing or religious war in Nigeria. So, I can only appeal to the elder statesman, (Danjuma) to let reason prevail, he should come and assist in dousing this artificial tension. The criminals have killed both Christians and Muslims; the criminals are killing without regards to religion or ethnicity, and the earlier, the louder we make this point, the better for all of them.”
While calling for the understanding and support of the U.S government ahead of the 2019 polls, Keyamo said, “I will also urge the US legislature and all stakeholders who are interested in Nigeria to come and speak to the ordinary people in Nigeria and they would get a different picture.”
According to him, “all I know in general is that the days when two military Generals will sit down in a room and decide who will be the next president of this country, those days are gone. I can say that confidently, that all of these moves, where people go and pay homage in one hill top or one tree top or one inside or any type of mecca should go. There is no longer any type of political mecca in Nigeria. The mecca in Nigeria, the political mecca in Nigeria is on the streets of Nigeria.”
Efforts to speak to Gen. Danjuma on these allegations failed because he has no known spokesman. But the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Ishaku on Media, Mr Dan Abu in his response to our enquiries oscillated between defending the governor’s right to travel for meetings in any part of the world to outright denial that his principal ever visited the U.S. Saturday Sun findings revealed that Governor Ishaku left Jalingo on Tuesday, May 29 for Abuja, from where he left for the U.S the following day. As at Friday, it was not certain if the governor has returned to the country.
Abu however said “I am not aware that my governor travelled to the U.S. I am just hearing from you. And even if he travelled to U.S, I don’t think anyone is banned from going unless he does not have a visa. What I know is that my governor is in Abuja, and I can’t answer you categorically about what I don’t know that my governor went to the US for a meeting and that Danjuma led my governor to the U.S. I am not aware of it and I can’t speak for Danjuma. All I know is that he is in Abuja.”