Chineme Okafor in Abuja
A Coalition of Bauchi Political Stakeholders wednesday condemned the federal governmentâ€™s claim last week that a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed, was one of the officials in the government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan that stole huge amount of money from treasury.
The coalition comprising 170 political players, in a statement they all signed, stated that the governmentâ€™s recent disclosure in a list it released and containing people it said stole money from the government was part of attempt to deflect the failings of President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s government and that of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Bauchi.
They equally stated that the list and its claims were derogatory, as well as an attempt to tarnish the person of Mohammed whom they advised to sue the government and its Minister of Information, Mr. Lai Mohammed.
Some of those who signed the statement included the state Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hamza Akuyam, his deputy, Garba Dahiru; and the secretary of the party in the state, Sani Madachi, among others.
They said: â€œSince the emergence of the APC-led federal government, it has engaged in a blame game of unprecedented proportions, all in an effort to cover its failure to deliver on its electoral promises.
â€œWith every passing day, Nigerians are regaled with hackneyed tales of how it would take eternity to rebuild the economy, a situation that betrays the insincerity of the party while making promises that, to the trained eye and honest participants were either based on sheer ignorance or outright mischief.â€
According to them, â€œWe always knew that, boxed into a corner by a hardly convinced populace, the APC government would, sooner than later, intensify the onslaught on the opposition. However, even as we recognised the penchant of the administrationâ€™s Goebbels for lie telling, never could we have imagined the descent into crude obfuscation and disregard for the rule of law by Lai Mohammed, the governmentâ€™s information minister and propagandist.
â€œAs it stands, with the recent release of his list of so-called â€˜treasury lootersâ€™ in which he included Senator Bala Mohammed, we want to state that not just has he run out of ideas, he has indeed taken this assault on civil liberties to a very dangerous and unacceptable high point.â€
They noted that, â€œIn his second list, he accused Bala Mohammed of looting the sum of N5 billion. But he does not disclose whether that is the cash recovered from him or the value of assets summarily forfeited to the federal government.
â€œAs members of Bala Mohammedâ€™s constituency in Bauchi, we condemn the unguarded utterances of Alhaji Lai Mohammed in the strongest terms possible.
â€œWhile we do not intend to throw civility to the winds as Lai Mohammed has consistently done, it is our considered view that, to allow his fabrications and hallucinations to go unchallenged will destroy the foundations of our civil liberties and Bala Mohammedâ€™s sterling reputation as a patriotic and honest Nigerian.â€
They explained that Lai Mohammedâ€™s recent statement on the people that stole governmentâ€™s money was faulty on at least four grounds which included disregard for rule of law; inconsistencies; deception; and character assassination.
â€œOur legal system presumes an accused innocent until proved guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. It is a well known fact that there are ongoing cases brought up against Bala Mohammed by agents of the federal government, in at least two high courts.
â€œIt is also a well known fact that the former minister denies all the allegations and is vigorously defending his honour and reputation in court. It is also a fact that, to the best of our knowledge, no court has found Bala Mohammed guilty. Pray, on what ground is Lai Mohammed describing him as a â€œtreasury looterâ€?,â€ the group said.
They further stated: â€œWe ask the public to take note of the inconsistent facts and figures being dished out by agents of the federal government on Bala Mohammed. Until Lai Mohammedâ€™s N5 billion bombshell, the figure being bandied by the federal government was N853,000,000.â€
â€œWhy would Lai Mohammed, against the facts, engage in this ridiculous manipulation of the facts? Why would a highly placed government minister show such brazen disregard for the truth and contempt for the legal system? Why has the APC adopted deception as a governance mantra? Or are we to believe that change and deception go hand in hand? The answer is not far-fetched. The time of reckoning, when the electorate will interrogate the agents of dubious change, is near.
â€œChallenged on every electoral promise, the APC has resorted to how it started out: deception. That explains the fact that, with just a year left, the administration is still shouting the name of former President Jonathan as if he is still in power! The greater pity is that they seem incapable of accepting that the strategy is not just working; that the people are not convinced,â€ they added.
According to the group, â€œThe people of Bauchi have great respect for President Buhari. Yet those openly persecuting Bala Mohammed on the altar of political convenience should retrace their steps otherwise they will definitely reap the reward of their indiscretion in 2019.
â€œMeanwhile, we call on Senator Bala Mohammedâ€™s lawyers to immediately institute a case against Lai Mohammed for contempt.
â€œWith tempers flaring up all over the country on account of sundry misgivings, Lai Mohammedâ€™s hate speeches carry the risk of fanning the embers of distrust and political instability. As stakeholders who voted overwhelmingly for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, we call on him to call Lai Mohammed to order.â€