FG Defends Amaechi over Leaked Audio Clips

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• Insists Obasanjo, Yar’Adua set precedent on IG’s tenure extension

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The federal government has defended the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, over an audio clip shared by an opposition media stalwart, Reno Omokri, where he was purportedly heard deriding President Muhammadu Buhari as someone who neither takes advice nor reads to acquire information.

Addressing journalists in Abuja yesterday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, rubbished the leaked audio clips, saying the clips were part of the design of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led opposition to ensure that the ongoing campaign for the 2019 elections is not based on issues but on mudslinging.

He berated the PDP, saying the former ruling party was wasting time circulating an audio that is clearly designed to blackmail.

“What is the point in shopping around for audio clips or publications that are then maliciously edited out of context? Why do they think this will break our ranks in the ruling party? What advantage do they think they can get from this infantile act? Whoever wants to circulate any audio or video clip should do so in its entirety so that the people can understand the context, otherwise, let them

continue wasting their time,” Mohammed explained.

He similarly berated the PDP for its stance on the tenure extension for the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris.

The IG was technically due for retirement on January 3, 2019, after having attained the mandatory age of 35 years in active service, while his mandatory retirement age of 60 years is due on January 15, 2019.

Mohammed said PDP was making a fuse over the tenure of Ibrahim, when former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and late Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua had granted extension to both Sunday Ehindero and Mike Okiro as IGs, when their tenures lapsed, without objection by the opposition parties.

He pilloried the opposition party for heating up the polity and insisted that it is the prerogative of President Buhari to extend or not extend the tenure of the IG.

“When you are drowning, you grab any floating object you can find. You even grab at straws. That’s what the PDP is doing with the issue of the IG’s tenure. In the first instance, it is the prerogative of the president to

extend or not extend the tenure of the Inspector General of Police or any service chief. That prerogative cannot be taken from Mr. President on the altar of paranoia by some people.

“President Obasanjo, in his time, extended the tenure of Mr. Sunday Ehindero as IG. Was there no opposition party then? Also, in his time, President Yar’Ardua extended the tenure of Mr. Mike Okiro as IG, heavens didn’t fall. I have read that some opposition parties are planning a series of nationwide protests on the issue of IG’s tenure. That’s purely within their right in a democracy. And I wish them the best of luck,” Mohammed said.

He similarly chastised the opposition for latching on the recent siege at Daily Trust newspapers offices by the military, saying the issues will be resolved via dialogue.

The minister warned that the activities of a

section of the media and some opposition political parties were demoralising the military and strengthening the insurgents.

He said reporting outrageous casualty figures were peddled without seeking or waiting for official clarification, while military plans were recklessly revealed without consideration for national security, adding that this does not happen even in the United States, the bastion of democracy.

“Some opposition political parties have needlessly pilloried the military, under the guise of criticising the federal government over the war against terror. Their actions amount to dancing on the graves

of the men and women in uniform who have made the supreme sacrifice so that you and I can be safe and secure. The military is not a political institution and must not be politicised”.

He also revealed that in the next few days, the federal government would launch a massive campaign in support of the military across many platforms in recognition of their gallantry in the fight against insurgency in the restive North- east.

He noted that many of the clips shared via the social media were altered and occurred elsewhere, saying the circulation of those clips were demoralising the troops.

“We have to be careful about what we say concerning the military which is making the supreme sacrifice against the insurgents to secure the country. If per adventure the insurgents overrun Abuja, everybody will run, including the opposition.

“Insurgency is an unconventional war like you have in Afghanistan. The insurgents are using women and children as cannon fodders. When they kill, they think it is normal and when the military retaliates, it becomes an issue. The ISIS’ loss of territory in Syria and Iraq is having an effect on Nigeria because having lost there, they think they can come to Nigeria and establish an Islamic Caliphate”.