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Kalu wants Obasanjo to take a stand on Anambra crisis

Posted by By Idowu Ajanaku and Wole Shadare on 2003/07/21 | Views: 944 |

Kalu wants Obasanjo to take a stand on Anambra crisis

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo's silence over the abduction of and attempt to unseat the Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, over a week after the incident is to enable him get to the root of the matter before making a public pronouncement.

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo's silence over the abduction of and attempt to unseat the Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, over a week after the incident is to enable him get to the root of the matter before making a public pronouncement.

This explanation came as Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, called on Obasanjo to "stand up and be counted among Nigerians of repute" who have condemned the botched civilian coup.

"Do you want to tell me that if there is a coup in Aso Rock, it is the same way it will be handled? This has lasted for over one week and a coup is a coup, no matter how you look at it," Kalu declared.

Femi Fani-Kayode, Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, said in an interview with The Guardian: "Let me assure you that President Obasanjo is a great believer in the rule of law. Therefore, Nigerians will not be disappointed at the outcome of the whole matter. The Federal Government will get to the root of the whole saga in the interest of democracy in the country".

He, however, urged Nigerians to exercise patience as all sides involved in the saga are being given the opportunity to state their positions.

President Obasanjo, he said, had always stood on the side of justice but will not be rushed to take position on such an important matter.

According to him, the retirement of the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 9, Raphael Ige, shows that the system is working and the President is committed to getting to the root of the matter.

He denied insinuations that President Obasanjo was aware of the plot and only travelled outside the country while the action lasted.

"That allegation is rubbish and false. How can a president who stands for democracy get himself involved in such a thing. President Obasanjo is a statesman", he argued.

Fani-Kayode warned that the Federal Government, under President Obasanjo would not tolerate the show of shame that happened in Anambra now or in future in any part of the country.

"This government will not tolerate any sacred cow no matter how highly placed such individual is. President Obasanjo will do the right thing at the right time", he said.

Kalu, while fielding reporters' questions at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, said instead of keeping mute over the whole saga, "he (Obasanjo) should stand up now and be counted among Nigerians of high repute".

The matter, he stressed, should not be treated as a "family affair".

His words: "Let me tell you the truth, those revelations have nothing to do with what we are talking about. What we are after is the way he (the governor) was bundled out. It's a coup and if it is a coup, it should be treated like a coup, so that it will serve as deterrent to others who are nursing or perfecting the same act."

He explained that he was only interested in the due process of the law "and I am appealing to the President to hasten the trial of the culprits because if they are not tried, there will be problem."

Expressing his satisfaction over the action of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) so far by expelling the principal actors in the saga, Kalu said the matter is far from over as the issue borders on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not the PDP constitution.

According to him: "PDP has done what it is supposed to do as a party. I am satisfied with PDP; what is remaining now is the criminal aspect of this matter and for which I am calling on President Obasanjo to stand up now and be counted among Nigerians."

Last Thursday, the PDP expelled the Anambra State Deputy Governor, Dr. Okey Udeh, and recommended similar sanctions on six others by its lower tiers over the July 10 attempt to unseat Ngige.

However, the party also expressed deep disappointment at Ngige's comportment, which led to the crisis and asked the Federal Government to appropriately handle the case of Raphael Ige.

The PDP's National Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said last week in Abuja that the incident smelt of "a well hatched conspiracy," and it was a coup, which according to him, "fortunately" failed.

Kalu, however, stated that the refusal of President Obasanjo to say a word since the incident started was already setting a wrong signal and bad precedent, as he queried: "Do you want to tell me that if there is a coup in Aso Rock, this is the same way it will be handled? This coup has lasted for over one week and a coup is a coup, no matter how you look at it."

He warned that Nigeria may be sitting on a gun-powder keg waiting to explode, as he accused the Federal Government of "sweeping a serious issue under the table, and it will explode one day". He further said: "I have interest in this country, I also have investment in this country and I want this country to remain as one."

Kalu faulted the decision to retire Ige, saying he should have been sacked outright since he (Ige) was due to retire officially in August.

His words: "In fact, Ige told me in confidence - he lived in my compound in Umuahia - he told me he never had orders from the Inspector-General of Police because I called him and asked him to tell me the truth on how he carried out that type of dangerous job. He said it was because Chris Uba called him to help him do the job. I think the reaction of the IG also showed that he didn't know."

On the claims that the President has no power to retire or sack the AIG, except through the Police Service Commission, the governor said it was supposed to be brought before the Police Service Commission and from there to the Police Council which has authority of advising the President on appointment of IG, DIG and AIG where Ige's case was supposed to have been discussed before his "hasty retirement."

"I am calling on the President once again to stand up and be counted among Nigerians. It could happen to him; all the boys there can tomorrow bundle him out of the place. That is why he must not just keep mum over the issue," Kalu emphasised.

The Senate Special ad-hoc Committee investigating the on-going political crisis in Anambra State will, this week, move to Awka, the capital of the state.

The committee's trip to Awka is coming just as another controversial letter of commitment allegedly by Ngige was released to journalists yesterday by aide to Chris Uba, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) financier in the state.

The undated letter on Dr. Ngige's letter-head is titled: "Commitment and Loyalty Assurance" reads:

"Whereas I was sponsored by the group headed and or led by Chief Chris Uba, who made it possible for me to be the Governor of Anambra State of Nigeria, therefore, I will be a true loyalist and a committed member of Chief Chris Uba's group in PDP, Anambra State. That I will never lie to him and everything I do will let him know before doing it.

"I hereby pledge with all that I have that anything Chief Chris Uba tells me to do, I will do, provided it will not incriminate me."

The letter, following the trend of some previous ones, was also typed.

Ngige had last week in the Senate admitted signing some and even writing the one in his handwriting but said he did so because he was being blackmailed and he knew they did not have the backing of law.

He even waved one of the letters to the committee, insisting that it could not be used to dethrone a village traditional ruler.

Another statement yesterday by Chief Chris Uba's spokesman, Mr. Chima Athan, sought to discredit Ngige for admitting that he signed the controversial letter of resignation.

"What manner of a man would probate and reprobate at the same time? The truth of the matter is just coming out following Ngige's admission of signing the letters last Friday. More of such will surely come out in a matter of days," the statement said.

Athan noted that Ngige had earlier insisted that he did not sign any letter and that his signature was forged, adding that he came out in public last Friday to admit signing the letters.

Uba's spokesman added that "the whole truth about the Anambra saga has not been made public."

Members of the Senate Special ad-hoc Committee travelling to Akwa are its Chairman, Senators Oserhieme Osunbor, Saidu Dansadau, Faruk Bello, Nuhu Aliyu, Bala Adamu and T.O. Olupitan, Ken Nnamani and David Mark.

The committee, made up of chairmen and vice chairmen of the Senate's Committees on Federal Character, States, Local Government and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Judiciary and Human Rights; Police Affairs and Security and Intelligence, has two weeks to submit its report to the Senate.

It is, among others, to investigate the role of the police and others in the political crisis which rocked Anambra, apportion blame, and recommend to the full house how to prevent a recurrence anywhere else in the country.

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