A fresh round of controversy has greeted the purported watch list of President Goodluck Jonathan with a former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, identifying himself and four others as some of those on the list.
El-Rufai’s tweet on Thursday evening triggered another controversy when he wrote that he was number seven on the alleged Jonathan’s snipers’ watch list.
In the tweet, El-Rurai identified four others: a former military head of state, General (Retd) Muhammadu Buhari; a former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu; the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, and a former Osun State Governor and Interim Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande, as also making the list.
But Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, on Friday described El-Rufai’s claim as sheer irresponsible talk.
A former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had, in a letter dated December 2, 2013, accused Jonathan of training snipers and putting 1,000 people on a watch list. Obasanjo had also accused Jonathan of having a killer-squad.
The President denied the allegations in his own letter to the former president, dated December 20, 2013. In the letter, Jonathan described Obasanjo as a liar and challenged him to provide evidence to back his allegations.
However, El-Rufai tweeted that he would start worrying when those ahead of him, including the four names mentioned, got killed.
All the persons identified in El-Rufai’s tweet are members of the main opposition party- APC.
His tweet which followed other ones which were critical of Jonathan’s administration in the course of the evening, stated:
“On this note, I am going to bed. I am number 7 on the GEJ (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) snipers’ list, so I will only worry when GMB (General Muhammadu Buhari), Asiwaju, Amaechi, Akande etc are killed.”
It will be recalled that Amaechi had earlier identified himself as the number one person on the alleged list.
Amaechi had made the allegation at a rally of the APC, held at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on December 28, 2013.
He had said: “I read the President’s letter; he said Obasanjo should prove and name those on the list. I am number one on the list. I am number one.”
The Chief of Staff, Rivers State Government House, Chief Tony Okocha, had even insisted that Amaechi had proof to back up his allegations, saying, “One thing you should know is that Governor Amaechi does not say one thing today on an issue and say another thing tomorrow on the same issue. You are aware of the battle between us and the police. Considering all we have passed through in the hands of the police, would anybody doubt the fact that the governor is on the Presidency’s watch list?”
However, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Mr. Ahmed Gulak, had challenged Amaechi and dared him to “go ahead and prove his claim.”
“I don’t really want to talk about him because he has lost credibility. He is just like a drunken man in a china shop that wants to bring down everybody with him,” he had said.
Earlier on Thursday evening, El Rufai had also tweeted:
“GEJ has given Goodluck a dodgy tag while ‘transformation’ is about to assume the same meaning as incompetence, zero capacity, retrogression!
“GEJ budgets N2bn to transform the six states of the North East. International donors budget N33bn, but GEJ deposits N1.6bn for his 11th plane.
“GEJ’s parrot claim they created 1.6 million jobs, while his statistician reported that 112 million live in extreme poverty. Transformation!
“GEJ’s vehicle convoy contains 33 cars. It is the longest convoy in the world & the largest Nigeria has ever seen since 1914. Transformation!
“GEJ’s presidential Air Fleet has 10 planes. Arik has 26. Aero – 16, Dana-5. GEJ PAF is our 3rd largest airline in Nigeria. Transformation!!”
In his response on Twitter, the Special Assistant to the President on New Media, Reno Omokri, wrote, “Paranoia-Mental illness characterised by delusions. Patients threaten others yet believe they’re the one under threat.”
Reacting to El-Rufai’s tweet, a human rights lawyer, Wahab Shittu, however, said the allegation would not be taken seriously since he failed to substantiate it.
Shittu added that Obasanjo and Amaechi should also substantiate their claims.
He said, “The allegation, grievous as it is and coming from Obasanjo, has to be substantiated if it is to be taken seriously. El-Rufai has to publish the list and also tell Nigerians the source of his information, otherwise people are going to treat it as wolf cry. Nigerians are entitled to treat their allegation as mere propaganda, speculation to score political point.”
Also according to Shittu, since the allegation borders on national security, El-Rufai and others ought to be invited by security agencies for questioning.
“All of them should be called upon by security agencies to provide concrete proof since this allegation borders on national security,” he said.