President Muhammadu Buhari has given insight into major decisions taken by his government.
In a presidential media chat last night, President Buhari justified some actions like the continued detention of former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) and leader of the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu.
Dasuki, who is facing trial for allegedly diverting and sharing over $2.2 billion dollars meant for arms procurement for the anti-Boko Haram war, to politicians and cronies, was on Wednesday re-arrested by the State Security Service after he had been granted bail by three different courts.
Kanu, who is spearheading the quest for an independent nation of Biafra, was earlier granted bail by a Federal high Court sitting in Abuja, but he was also re-arrested by the SSS, which slammed a fresh charge of treasonable felony against him.
Speaking during his first presidential media chat at the presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday, Buhari said the two accused persons cannot be allowed to enjoy any form of freedom due to the enormity of their offences.
“”If you see the atrocities these people committed against this country, we can’t allow them to jump bail,” he said.
On Dasuki, the President said, “They would just say to Central Bank give so and so, 40 billion naira just like that; 40 billion,” he said
“If Dasuki travels to London to see his doctor what of the over two million people displaced, most of them orphans whose fathers have been killed, what type of government do you want to run? We cannot allow that”, he said.
Buhari also said despite having two international passports, one for Britain and the other for Nigeria, Kanu “did not use any of them to come into the country”.
He also said the IPOB leader smuggled in equipment with which he came in to preach hate messages.
On the Shi’ite killings, Buhari said he would comment after receiving reports of investigations from the police and the Kaduna State Government.
He said he was in touch with the governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai, and that the president of Iran had also called to ask about the crisis.
“I was in touch with the governor of Kaduna state and interestingly the President of Iran talked to me about it.
“I told him we have a system of investigation as a government. This happened in one city out of 36, and the governor visited the scene. As the head of the federal government, I have to wait for official report from the Kaduna State government from their investigations before I comment,” he said.
But the president momentarily chided the Shi’as for “creating a state within a state”.
“How can any group create a state within a state? I saw a clip in which some dissidents were virtually hitting the chest of Generals,” he said.
“To be fair to the both sides, we have to wait for the report of the inquiry.”
“In any incident where lives and property were lost there is a standard way of doing things and people would be asked to come and give evidence”
Concerning the federal awmakers’ cars, the President said: “For all I know, the first time I turned down a N400million bill for cars for the Presidency. I said the vehicles I am using are good enough for the next 10 years.
“But I understand there is a pool for the protocols when Heads of States and Governments visit they have to buy vehicles. As for the National Assembly, we are having problems with them on the Treasury Single Account (TSA), everybody has to subject himself to the TSA as long as federal money is involved.
“But I turned down about N50 billion for vehicles, I think I have to hold a closed door meeting with them and I think they have not bought them yet.
“N47.5billion for vehicles for National Assembly members? I think I will explore the possibility of that power. If I can turn down N400million for vehicles in the Presidency, I think we don’t need new cars; we can manage the old ones because of the economy. I can’t see the National Assembly spending more than N40 billion to buy cars on top of transport allowances they collected. I have to revisit this story. They get N100 billion for their allowances.”
War on corruption: “I think we are doing quite well, considering the circumstances, first, this will be best illustrated by my personal experience. In fact, 30 years ago when I was in uniform as Head of State, we arrested people who were perceived to be corrupt and put them in protective custody and we told them they are guilty until they can prove themselves innocent. Now I am here in a different form, in a multi party democratic system and the nation we are looking forward to cooperation, under the circumstances we found ourselves in – security wise and economic wise, even morally.
“The only acceptable decision to them is those suspected to be corrupt are innocent until they are proven guilty. Having said that we have been lucky to find some documents, where public funds were diverted to personal pockets”
He said some money has been recovered from corrupt persons.
“Money has been recovered but the fact that whatever we recovered we have to end up in court because Nigerians are entitled to know the truth and the truth will be what the court has discovered by submissions made to them in terms of documentation , including the bank statements where it was lodged, how it was lodged whether it is petrol, money from NNPC or money from customs, or money directly from central bank, when we do that,Nigeria will be b.
On the missing Chibok girls, he has this to say: “This is about the third time I will answer on Chibok girls. I could recall that so many leadership of Boko Haram existed. But we insisted on establishing the bonafide leadership of the so-called Boko Haram leadership before we can agree to negotiate with them on what terms will be of interest to us before we can take them to their schools.
“Secondly, we want to ensure that they are complete, 209 and they are safe and sound. But what we also found talking to a lot of sources is that no Chibok girl has been recovered, they must have dispersed them all over the place, and wanted as far as humanly possible, although some of their parents are desperate they would rather see their graves or the conditions some of them should be in.
“We are still keeping our options open, that if a credible leadership of Boko Haram can be established and they tell us where those girls are we are prepared to negotiate with them without any pre-condition. This we have made it absolutely clear, but where they are keeping the Chibok girls, they must not get away with the idea that we will not attempt to secure the rest of Nigeria.
On whether he has intelligence reports on the girls whereabout, he said: “That is what I’m looking for. We are looking for a credible Boko Haram leadership that will convince us that the girls are there and alive. If any of Boko Haram can come out to say it is the leader and that he knows where Chibok girls are we cannot automatically believe him.
“That kind of information, I’m working with Niger, Chad and the Cameroon and I assure you that the question of Chibok girls is only on our minds for even humanitarian reasons, but there is no such intelligence reports of where those girls are physically are and in what condition they are in, but what we believe in from our intelligence, is theta they keep shifting them around so that they are not taken by surprise until the girls are freed, and they are not kept in one place.
On if he has any cogent reliable intelligence reports to say Chibok girls are still alive, he said he can’t be certain about it, “that is the honest truth.”