Second Republic Governor of Plateau State, Dr. Solomon Lar
By Ernest Chinwo
Second Republic Governor of Plateau State, Dr. Solomon Lar, has said the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) embarked upon by former Head of State and leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, was targeted at political leaders from the minority ethnic nationalities.
He said even when the courts found the leaders innocent of the charges of corruption levelled against them, the military authorities under Buhari refused to release them.
Lar was speaking as a guest speaker at the eighth Senator Obi Wali memorial lecture and merit award organised by the Ikwerre Development Association (IDA) in Port Harcourt.
In his lecture titled: “Perspectives on Minorities and Nation Building in Nigeria”, Lar noted that the history of Nigeria would be incomplete without the contributions made by the minorities in nation-building.
He, however, expressed regret that the majority groups had over the years tried to stall the development of the minority groups and even victimised them in the scheme of things in the country.
According to him, “From available records, the minorities, right from the colonial days, are known to be paying highly for keeping Nigeria one and making it grow.”
He noted that the minorities were the greatest victims of colonialism, as the British colonialists denied them their ways of life and autonomy by merging them with the majority ethnic groups.
“Up North where the minorities put together out-numbered the majority nationality, they were made to surrender their sovereignty to the leadership of the Hausa-Fulani rulership,” he said.
Recounting what the minorities passed through during the colonial days, Lar rhetorically asked, “Would October 1, 1960 have been a reality if the minorities had ganged up and insisted on their rights before independence was granted as scheduled?”
He stated that the political crises that consumed the First Republic was partly as a result of “crises created by the major political parties, especially their denial of peoples mandate as expressed through political parties formed by the minorities”.
He noted that even when the Second Republic failed and Buhari took over as Head of State, he targeted minorities in his crusade against corruption.
His words: “He (Buhari) embarked on War Against Corruption, and seemed to have targeted the minorities mainly. Some were sentenced to 120 years imprisonment, without proper trial. It took the grace of God for us to get off the hook.
“Justice Mohammed Bello’s review panel set most of us free. Like in my own case, the panel said, ‘Mr. Solomon Lar did not misuse one kobo of government, he did not even amass wealth for himself, he is not guilty, there is no reason for keeping him in prison’. Even with that verdict, it took the military almost two years to release me from prison. The crime was the emancipation philosophy that I championed for the minorities.”
He however expressed satisfaction that the minorities are no longer in opposition, but “gradually possessing their possessions, working hard to ensure that the Nigerian nation grows stronger and well-integrated.”