President Muhammadu Buhari

I Jailed You When I was Head of State, So What? – Buhari

I Jailed You When I was Head of State, So What? - Buhari

Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu

President Muhammadu Buhari has told those who have been lamenting that he jailed them when he was a military head of state to stop sulking and move, insisting that going to jail was no big deal.

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The President, who was speaking to Nigerians resident in South Africa on Monday after taking part in the 25th assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Johannesburg, declared that he too was locked up for three years.

“After being in the military for 25 years, and getting to the highest rank and becoming Head of State and under unusual circumstances, as Head of State, I went straight to detention for three-and-a-half years. So, those who accuse me of locking them up, I too have been locked up; so what?”

During his campaign in the March 28 election, the recurring accusations against (then) Major-General Buhari, who first came to power in a military coup in December 1983, were his high-handedness and how he jailed many Nigerians during his regime as the Nigeria’s military head of state. Cases repeatedly referenced were that of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and the journalist duo of Ndukar Irabor and Tunde Thompson.

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, who was sentenced by a military tribunal to five years’ imprisonment on what Fela insisted then were trumped-up currency charges, but was released after a year and a half by a new government that over-threw Buhari. The reason Seun Kuti, Fela’s musician son, had attacked Buhari during his campaign by saying: “For you to jail that man you must be inherently evil.”

Ndukar Irabor then an assistant editor at the Guardian and Tunde Thompson the Guardian newspaper diplomatic correspondent, were sentenced to a year in prison in 1984 under the notorious Decree 4 of the Buhari military government for writing about the closure and retirement of some diplomatic staff.

Other prominent Nigerians sent to jail by Buhari were Ikemba Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Shehu Shangri, Lateef Jakande, Jim Nwobodo, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Ayo Ojewumi, Prof Ambrose Ali, among others.

According to Buhari, he had suffered greatly for his country, being at the war front for 30 months. During the civil war “I was in the war front for 30 months during the civil war. I lost a lot of loyal people to me, I lost relatives. A lot of Nigerians did too. We lost about two million Nigerians just to keep Nigeria one. So, nobody should come now and tell us rubbish. We are going to remain one country.”

He Stated that the nation Nigeria has been given another opportunity by God to reorganise and get her bearings right. It is also the time for those who are diligent and hardworking to receive the reward for their labour. “Those who work hard, the society will pay them back,” he said.

The president concluded that the people of Nigeria voted him in because they wanted a saviour that would bring the Nation out of the mess she’s been pushed into by the PDP

“From 1999 till date, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP has messed it up. That is why Nigerians decided to vote me. When people had no jobs they got some for them. That was when I decided, and I believe that the best form of governance is multi-party democracy with a big caveat – election must be free and fair. And that was why I was in trouble. I moved from the All Peoples Party, APP, to the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and eventually, the All Progressives Congress, APC.

“I contested in 2003, spent 30 months in courts and ended up in the Supreme Court. I contested in 2007, spent about 20 months in courts and ended up in the Supreme Court. I contested in 2011 and spent about eight months in courts – all ending up in the Supreme Court. Why was I doing this? I know the reason; I believed in it! I believe in a system where election is free and fair,” he said.