The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has snubbed calls to visit northern Nigeria amid the rising insecurity in the region. Rather, the President on Thursday travelled with his wife, Aisha, and seven ministers to Istanbul to attend the third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit.
Buhari had come under attack in recent times due to the rising insecurity in the region with youths campaigning with the #SecureNorth and #NorthisBleeding.
As of Thursday evening, over 32,000 people had signed a petition on Change.Org, calling on the President to declare a state of emergency in parts of Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina due to the insecurity even as the President had refused to visit victims.
During protests on Wednesday, the demonstrators said the President should personally visit communities attacked bandits rather than sending delegates there.
Some northern groups faulted the President’s decision to visit Lagos for the book launch of All Progressives Congress chieftain, Bisi Akande, barely two days after a bus load of passengers were burnt alive by bandits in Sokoto State.
Defending the President on Monday, the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, said it was impossible for the President to pay condolence visits to victims, adding that sending a delegation was proper.
“These attacks are happening almost on a daily basis and it is not possible for the president to visit all the places for condolences. And if you send a delegation, it is as if you were there, is all the same,” he said.
However, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said in a statement on Thursday that the President had travelled to Turkey for a summit, themed, ‘Enhanced Partnership for Common Development and Prosperity,’ which will be hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Republic of Turkey.
According to the organisers, the summit will review the cooperation between African countries and Turkey since the last summit in 2014.
Shehu said, “The third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit is coming on the heels of President Erdogan’s recent State Visit to Nigeria during which several agreements in the fields of energy, defence industry, mining and hydrocarbons were signed to expand existing bilateral ties.
“The Turkish leader had, during the visit to Nigeria, affirmed his commitment to immediately expand the volume of trade between the two countries to $5bn and the Nigerian delegation will seize the opportunity of the gathering in Istanbul to enhance cooperation with other partners for more trade and investment opportunities in the country.
Shehu added that Buhari would be accompanied on the trip by his wife, Aisha Buhari; the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Defence, Bashir Magashi; FCT, Mohammed Bello; Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Agriculture, Mohammed Abubakar; Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo; the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Abubakar.
The President is expected back in Abuja on Sunday, December 19.
Istanbul will be the 9th city the President has visited in the past 13 weeks. Within this period, he has visited Dubai, Durban, Paris, Scotland, New York, Riyadh and Mecca.
President’s failure to visit victims shows he does not care about Nigerians – Coordinator, NAM
Meanwhile, the coordinator, Northern Alliance Movement, Yahuza Getso said the President’s decision to snub even his home state where a commissioner was killed on Wednesday and traveled out of the country showed that he does not care about Nigerians.
Buhari will leave the country on fire, only God holding Nigeria – SOKAPU youth leader
The Youth President of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, Isaac John, in an interview with The PUNCH said he was not surprised by the action of the President.
According to him, only God has been holding the country.
He said,” I am not surprised and I do not expect anyone to be. It is the same old story. He would leave even if the entire country is on fire. Let me say at this point that it is only God that is holding the country
Meanwhile, Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has demanded the immediate release of protesters arrested in the Federal Capital Territory and other parts of the Northern region.
The PUNCH had reported that some northern youths who were protesting against the rising insecurity in the region were arrested and subsequently detained by the operatives of the FCT police command.
However, in a statement on Thursday signed by Falana, he accused the police of breaching the fundamental rights of the protesters by disrupting their demonstration and arresting some of them.
The statement was titled, “Release detained protesters against insecurity”.
It read, “On Thursday some young people participated in a peaceful protest against increasing insecurity in the northern part of Nigeria. In utter breach of the fundamental right of the protesters the Nigeria Police Force violently disrupted the rally and arrested some of the participants.
“In stopping the peaceful rally the police violated the fundamental right of the unarmed protesters and others who were earlier arrested in Kano, Kaduna and Sokoto by the police and the State Security Service.
“By abruptly stopping the protests, the security forces breached section 83 (4) of the Police Establishment Act which requires the police to provide adequate security for citizens who participate in peaceful meetings and rallies.”
Falana reminded the police authorities that on November 20, 2014 the leaders of the All Progressive Congress led by Buhari took part in a protest against insecurity under President Goodluck Jonathan without any harassment whatsoever.