By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Abuja denied allegations of prevalent rights violations by his administration, saying his conscience is clear.
The president who made the remarks while receiving letters of credence from the United States’ new Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Mary Beth Leonard, said the US decision to place Nigeria on the watch list of countries with human rights’ concerns, created an impression that some people were being unfairly treated or marginalised in the country.
Buhari enjoined the United States to always ensure that its sources of information on Nigeria are drawn from all parts of the country, insinuating that some people might deliberately provide misleading and manipulative narratives in pursuit of their selfish agenda at the expense of a united country.
“I know that those with access have created an impression of being marginalised. I sit here with a clear conscience. I took an oath and I am honouring the office,’’ he said.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Graba Shehu, said the president told the ambassador that he took some time to explain the situation in the country in 2018 when he met with President Donald Trump in Washington DC after the American President expressed concern over reports of attacks on some segments of the society.
“It is not an easy task to work for the unity of the country, and I am doing my best. During your stay in the country I am asking you to ensure that your sources of strategic information cut across,’’ Shehu quoted the president.
According to the statement, the president encouraged the envoy to use the opportunity of her posting to Nigeria as well as her experience, knowledge and energy to get the exact facts on the country.
Shehu ,who said Leonard in her remarks, explained that Nigeria was placed on a watch list to deepen conversation on humanitarian situation in the country, added that some people could “flare the flames and crystalise issues’’ that could affect peaceful-coexistence.
“There are people who make things less attractive than they seem,’’ she said, noting that the report will deepen conversation of the situation in the country, especially with religious leaders and mediators.
“I want to assure that the United States recognizes and celebrates the integration in Nigeria,” she was quoted as saying.
Shehu said the ambassador assured that the United States would always align with transparent processes, pointing out that Nigerians and the United States have a lot in common including “being big among neighbours, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial.”
He also said Leonard assured Buhari of support from the United States, especially on issues bordering on humanitarian challenges and expressed appreciation to Nigeria for its willingness to always share useful information and intelligence with her country.
“I feel it’s a privilege and great honour to be here; coming to see the giant of Africa. I have worked for 3 decades before coming to Nigeria. We will do a lot together for peace, security and delivering humanitarian assistance,’’ she was quoted.
The statement also said Buhari received letters of credence from the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Nigeria, Ahamed Lebbe Sabarullah Khan, appreciating the country for supporting Nigeria to produce the President of the United Nations General Assembly.