The national leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Friday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja, telling him to order the release of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
Both men have been in detention for years over corruption allegation and criminality, respectively.
In a speech delivered by the President of the association, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, he stressed the need for a total adherence to the rule of law.
He said this will lessen the tension in the country.
He said: “Total adherence to the rule of law as is required by our constitution and full-blown democracy by making sure that those whose bails have been granted by competent courts like Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and Leader of the Shiites, Malam Ibrahim El-Zakzaky are released from detention to enjoy the bail granted them by the courts of law.
“This would ease tension in the land and give credit to your administration together with respect from the international community.”
CAN also demand a total overhaul of the nation’s security and the removal of service chiefs who have overstayed in office.
Ayokunle who read a prepared text said as another election year, the association wanted to appeal that “presidential order to the Police and other security agencies to be non-partisan, neutral and apolitical in the coming general election with a view to securing international respect and honour for our country in the comity of nations.”
He added: “The degree of desperation we saw in the politicians during the intra-party elections that took place recently do not give many people hope concerning 2019 unless serious steps are taken to let decency prevail.
“We appeal to you to make sure that the law enforcement agents and the election umpire do their work professionally without the intimidation of voters, manipulation and any trace of violence throughout the period of elections. We believe that the survival and peace of Nigeria are greater than the ambition of any politician.
“We again request that your administration conducts a free and fair election that would add to the accolades the country received from the conduct of 2015 elections that brought you to power.
“Restoration of peace and sanity in troubled spots in the country, especially in the States of Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Kaduna and Zamfara.
“Enhancement of security and flushing out of attackers in many towns as is in Gashish District on the Plateau, in order to allow sacked communities in the various IDP camps to return to their towns and villages.
“We urge your administration to invest more on intelligence gathering and ensure that our security agents work on them before the terrorists would strike.”
The association also urged the president to issue a presidential order directing the Army to stop using live bullets in quelling civil disturbances and an order to the Police to provide protection to any group of people engaging in peaceful protest as the law and modern-day democracy allows.
It further said: “A total overhauling of the security system with a view to replacing security chiefs who have overstayed their welcome.
“An urgent resolution of the controversies on the ongoing dialogue over the new minimum wage.
“A concerted effort on the part of your government to ensure Nigeria does not return to the dreaded economic recession.
“An appeal to all political parties to shun vote buying with a view to letting the votes of the people count, come 2019.
“Setting up of a judicial panel of enquiry to look into the incessant killings in the North-central with a view to unmasking perpetrators and bringing them to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
“One of the terms of reference of the judicial panel, if accepted, should be to investigate the killing of the immediate Director of Administration of the Army, Major General Idris Alkali (rtd), and circumstances surrounding the kidnap and killing of the Paramount Chief of the Adara Chiefdom in Kaduna State, His Royal Highness, the Agom Adara, Dr Maiwada Raphael Galadima.
“More importantly sir, issue a presidential order to the security agencies to secure the release of Miss Leah Sharibu, who has been in the captivity of Boko Haram, and the remaining 112 Chibok girls and other innocent Nigerians still held by terrorist organisations.”
The CAN delegation lauded the President for his efforts in fighting corruption, the initiatives to stem the tide of unemployment, the various efforts aimed at revamping the economy, the fight against Boko Haram terrorists and the implementation of the Bank Verification Number and the Treasury Single Account.
Responding to the association remarks.
President Buhari assured that his vision and objectives for Nigeria are very clear and he is on course to achieve them.
He said he was doing his best to fulfil his electoral promises of securing the country, fighting corruption and resuscitating the economy.
The President added that fighting corruption takes longer time especially with the need to adhere to the rule of law.
He stated: “It is on record that some cases initiated by the anti-graft bodies since 2003 are yet to be concluded. We will, however, not be discouraged. Where monies have been recovered, such monies will not find their way back to the looters as I have directed EFCC to account for every money it has recovered and put them in a dedicated account.”
On the CAN’s request for an overhaul of the intelligence gathering system, President Buhari said the burden of intelligence gathering involves everyone especially district heads, traditional rulers, opinion leaders and especially religious leaders that are very close to the grassroots.
He added that bandits who are operating in various communities live among the people and enjoined leaders of thought in various communities to avail security agencies of information about the criminals.
President Buhari also told the visitors that he had assurances from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that the 2019 elections will be free and fair as he has been a victim of fraudulent elections and beneficiary of a free and fair election in the past.
He further said: “When I decided to put on this Agbada to see what the people are seeing in it, I tried three times, 2003, 2007 and 2011, but the fourth time, in 2015, I succeeded. We thank God and technology in the form of permanent voters card and card reader because what they used to do was to look at constituencies, award the votes and then they will say whoever didn’t agree should go to court. When people are looking for what to eat, where do they have the money to go to court to pay the SANs?”
On farmers and herders clashes, President Buhari told the visitors that the government was working towards finding a lasting solution to it.