Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency on Thursday accused Amnesty International of skewing report on the Lekki shootings, insisting it could not have more facts about the country than President Muhammadu Buhari’s‘helicopter view’ of things happening in the country.
This is even as President Buhari has given ministers one week ultimatum to submit reports of their relocation to their home states for the purpose of dousing the tension created by the #ENDSARS protests and the lawlessness that followed.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, made this disclosure while speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme.
The Presidential spokesman, disputed allegations that the looting and rioting was not caused by the military shootings, insisting that there was already violence in some parts of the country before the Lekki incident.
Responding to a question that the looting was a fall out of the Lekki shootings, Adesina said, “You are not quite correct. You are falling for the narrative of Amnesty International. And Amnesty is wrong. Anarchy had broken loose before even Lekki. The prisons in Benin and Oko had been broken open before Lekki. Orile police station had been burnt before Lekki.
“Many policemen had been burnt before Lekki. So, you cannot say it was Lekki that precipitated all those things. Look at the timelines, look at when all those things. You will discover that it had happened before Lekki. So, you are falling for the gambit of Amnesty International.
“Amnesty International does not have all the facts, they don’t run this country, they shouldn’t know beyond what they have been told. They shouldn’t know more than you and I should know as media people as watchers of developments.”
When asked if it was the President’s thinking that Amnesty’s report was wrong, the presidential spokesman said Amnesty International had been known to always make unsubstantiated reports about Nigeria.
“Many times, the military has come out to dispute facts brought out by Amnesty,” he said.
When probed further as to whether the President approved the military action in Lekki as the commander-in-chief, Adesina said he would not want to undermine the work of the panel of inquiry looking into the matter.
Speaking on the directives to ministers to visit states to douse station, he said: “I can tell you because there was another Federal Executive Council meeting yesterday (Wednesday), the president asked for briefs from ministers who went out. Only two had their reports ready as at yesterday because some others were still in their respective states still carrying out their assignment. So, the president said all of them should turn in their reports through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in the incoming week.”
Asked what to expect out of the reports, Adesina said: “Well, it can only be positive.
One, it will help us to establish the truth to somethings because there are a lot of conjectures, colourations, outright falsehoods, fake news and all that. The ministers can come with what is near authentic based on the consultations they are going to make.”
Recalled that Water Resources Minister Sulaiman Adamu, had during a courtesy call to Governor Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State in Dutse, disclosed that ministers were directed to meet with stakeholders to explain federal government’s efforts to meet the demands of the youths.
He had said that the cabinet members were directed to “go to our states to solicit the support of political, traditional, religious and community leaders against the violence that emanated from # EndSARS protests.”
Adamu had said he was therefore in the state to meet with leaders on “promoting tolerance, peace and stability in this critical moment and hear from them and report back to him (Buhari) immediately.”.
Adamu had also acknowledged that the #ENDSARS protests started well and was in line with the Nigerian constitution only to be hijacked along the line by those who infringed on the rights of other citizens, killed innocent persons, looted and engaged in other criminal acts.
He said: “President Muhammad Buhari is soliciting the support of all other political leaders in the state to properly address the people of the state on the need to dispel any rumour that is tantamount to creating disunity among Nigerians and also throw the nation into crisis.”