Amid claims and counter-claims, the Presidency has given its own picture of what transpired in the attack on the presidential convoy by angry Kano youths, describing it variously as “fake news”, “minor incident” and berating the opposition People Democratic Party (PDP).
There were reports in the mainstream and social media, some showing videos of angry youths pelting stones at the Presidential convoy, even stones been thrown at a chopper conveying the President on Monday.
President Muhammadu Buhari has since returned to Abuja on Tuesday evening from the two-day Kano and Jigawa trips.
In a statement, Presidential spokesman, Mr. Garba Shehu said: “We have seen fake reports of a stone-pelting incident that took place in the Hotoro area of Kano on the day of the visit to the city by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, an incident, even if minor, that should stand condemned by all well-meaning citizens.
“Facts on ground as rendered by the law enforcement agencies speak of a clash between the local road transport authorities, the Kano Road Transport Authority, KAROTA and thugs hired by a yet-to-be identified group that took place when the President was being treated to a banquet at the Government House, well after he had finished his projects commissioning.
“The President was in the state to work on the development, safety and security of the lives of common citizens and the happy thing about it was that the good people of Kano State were appreciative of him for the progress the state and the nation at large are making under him.
“The divisive rhetoric of an opposition in a futile attempt to malign the image of the President and the candidates of the All Progressives Congress in the coming elections, and its desperate wedge-driving activities to cause a division between the party and the government is not what will give them victory.
“A so-called leading opposition party that controls 14 states, going into elections with eight or nine of the states in tow should look inwards to see why their campaign is flagging and destined to fail. Their defeat is a foretold story by many discerning individuals.
“The stone-pelters as seen from the video in the fight against the traffic police were innocent children sponsored by politicians and terrorist sympathizers. There is no place for violence in a democracy.
“The PDP should use the opportunity of the electioneering to put their point of view in a democracy. When problems can be resolved through talks, there is no place for stone-pelting, arson and unruly behavior as we are witnessing in some of the campaigns.
“It is equally unhealthy for society and it becomes the duty of political, social and religious leaders to correctly inform the misled youngsters to shun the path of violence which is inimical to their own future.
“Lastly is to say that the President has not lost his command and respect in Kano. For those who hold the border closure against him, they must come to realise that the 60-70 integrated rice mills in the city today would not have been in place if he had allowed the free-for-all smuggling to continue.”
According to a comprehensive report on the visit of the President to Kano by The Punch, some angry youths in the State, on Monday, hauled stones at the advance convoy of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), during an official visit to Kano.
Security had been beefed up across the Kano metropolis as the President visited the state to inaugurate eight development projects.
The President arrived at the Aminu Kano International airport in the morning and from there, he was conveyed by helicopter to the palace of the Emir of Kano, Aminu Bayero.
However, in spite of the heavy security presence mounted on the routes leading to Ahmadu Bello way where the President was to launch Galaxy Backbone Limited’s project, angry youths holding stones of various sizes and wielding sticks reportedly attacked Buhari’s convoy and helicopter as it hovered above them.
Videos circulated on social media showed the moment the irate youths pelted stones at the helicopter believed to be conveying the President.
One video showed citizens angrily struggling with some unidentified security agents while a convoy made its way through their midst.
Another video showed a road littered with stones while teargas canisters were being fired to disperse the angry mob.
Our correspondent observed as the protesting youths shouted “ba ma yi” (down with you) and ran helter-skelter to avoid being caught by heavily armed security operatives who provided security for the President and his convoy.
Besides Hotoro and a few other projects that were inaugurated, the President’s chopper was parked at the Emir’s palace, from where he proceeded to Kumbotso Local Government to inaugurate the 10 megawatts solar power projects.
However, the President’s trip to Kumbotso did not record any attack by any mob, as he was sandwiched by security operatives, who comprised heavily armed soldiers aboard motorised Toyota Hilux and was also supported by armed mobile police special forces.
The Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, had recently in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Abba Anwar, asked Buhari to postpone his planned trip to inaugurate some projects in the state.
Ganduje said in the statement that the naira redesign and January 31 deadline for old notes had brought hardship on residents of the state, adding that the development made people angry.
“Deeply concerned with the hardship caused by the limited time given for halting the use of old naira notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria, and for security reasons, Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje reveals that the state resolved and wrote to the presidency that the visit of the president to commission some projects to be postponed,” the statement said in part.
However, Ganduje, while speaking to journalists after a meeting with Buhari in Katsina, expressed readiness to receive the president to commission the projects in the state.
“We are very much ready to receive him and we have a lot for him to commission, including Federal Government projects and state government projects. They are state-of-the-art projects,” Ganduje said.
Prior to the Ganduje episode, angry youths had attacked government officials when the President visited his home state in Katsina to inaugurate some projects on Thursday.
The youths were said to have staged the protest to express their anger against the hardship being experienced in the country.
The situation reportedly degenerated when the youths started throwing stones, causing a commotion that created tension in the area
Reacting to the Kano rampage, spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council, Senator Dino Melaye, who shared one of the videos from the reported attack, blamed it on the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
In a post, he wrote, “The fight between Tinubu and Buhari is entering a new dimension. The attack in Kano was properly coordinated and funded allegedly by Asiwaju.
“The meeting to push Buhari to submission or face sponsored attack in the north was said to be hatched in Burdillon. Me, I am busy with Atiku.”
A political activist, Deji Adeyanju, who shared another video of the reported attack, said, “They are showing Buhari and APC Shege in Kano and many northern states.”
Similarly, the PDP in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, on Monday also blamed Tinubu and the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, for the attack.
According to the party, the attack was designed to undermine the Presidency, cause confusion, trigger violence in the country, disrupt the conduct of the 2023 general elections “and derail our democracy having realised that he cannot win in a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.”
The statement read in part, “The PDP invites Nigerians to note how Governor Abdullahi Ganduje attempted to abridge President Buhari’s movement and even tried to stop him from visiting Kano State.
“More disquieting is the fact that the APC Presidential Campaign sought to humiliate and harm President Buhari while performing his official duties in Kano.
“It should be noted that the APC presidential candidate has been displaying open aversion and making inciting statements against President Buhari since Mr President’s declaration, in line with democratic best practice all over the world that Nigerians should freely vote for any candidate and party of their choice in the 2023 general elections.
The apparent frustration of Asiwaju Tinubu to resort to encourage or condone violence is fueled by his entitlement mentality, that it is his turn to be President, despite his numerous ineligibility and disability baggage.”
Ologunagba reminded Nigerians about Tinubu’s infamous statement in London where he declared to his supporters that “political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte.”
‘PDP allegations fake’
In its reaction, the APC described as “fake news,” the allegation that Tinubu and Ganduje were behind the attack.
A statement issued late Monday night by the Director of Media and Publicity of the APC Campaign Council, Bayo Onanuga, accused the main opposition party of peddling the “fake news* and urged Nigerians to disregard same.
The statement read in part, “We were not surprised to read of the imaginary attack on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria being peddled by the Peoples Democratic Party since the party has nothing tangible to tell Nigerians from its crumbling Presidential Campaign.
“This invented attack on President Muhammadu Buhari must have happened only in the fertile imagination of PDP National Publicity Secretary, one Debo Ologunagba.
Nigerians should disregard this fake news from a party that has lost touch with reality and is suffering the agony of violating its own rules on power rotation.
“Just as it has been masterminding fake news against the APC presidential candidate and trying vainly to cause disharmony in the APC family, we believe the party may have planned to embarrass President Buhari in Kano and then put the blame on host Governor Ganduje and Tinubu.
“This is because PDP has recently morphed from being a Buhari virulent critic to strangely becoming a Buhari spokesperson. The last time, it issued a self-serving misinterpretation of Asíwájú’s statement in Abeokuta as an attack on President Buhari.”
The statement further said the fear of impending defeat may have pushed the PDP “into frenzied hallucinatory mode of mindless, ridiculous, ludicrous litany of lies and fabrications against APC and its candidate.”
It continued, “The PDP is a drowning party feverishly clawing at any straw of lies and lashing out in all delusional directions to keep afloat – but sink it will.
“We believe Nigerians are not taken in by the jejune antics.
“The PDP now runs the most unethical, pernicious and inelegant, abusive, obtrusive and nationally divisive campaign in the history of electioneering in Nigeria.
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, declined to comment. He explained that he was not on the delegation at the time of the incident.
When contacted for a response to the allegation about Ganduje, the Kano State Commissioner for Information, Mohammed Garba, did not take several calls made to his phone and did not respond to the text message sent to his line as of the time of filing this report.
But when contacted for confirmation of the alleged attack, the Kano Police Command spokesman, SP Abdullahi Haruna, dismissed the claims as false and unsubstantiated.
According to him, a Kano Road Traffic Agency official stabbed a commercial tricycle operator, adjacent to Abubakar Rimi I Television Station in Hotoro, a situation that resulted in chaos.
The PPRO said the incident did not go down well with youths within the vicinity, who mobilised to descend on any KAROTA personnel sighted, leading to the hauling of stones on KAROTA officials, who fled the scene to safety.
The President was said to have retired to the government house after the inauguration of projects as of the time the rampage was ongoing.
The Police PRO, therefore, vehemently denied that nobody or group attacked the President’s convoy, adding that the visit was peaceful and hitch-free, following the huge combined security presence.
Meanwhile, during the lunch held in his honour at the Kano State Government’s House, Buhari alleged that some foreign elements were part of the conspiracy that used Boko Haram to destroy the country.
The President added that it was unfortunate that Boko Haram had stopped the country from tapping its resources in the Lake Chad Basin.
He said, “We have shown Nigerians and the rest of the world that we have so many natural resources. Boko Haram insurgents took over the control of 17 local governments in Borno State. Out of the 27 LGs in the state, 13 were under Boko Haram and only four were with the government.
“Half of Yobe State was in the hands of Boko Haram. I suspect there is an international group that wants to destroy Nigeria, if not how can Western education be Haram” he queried.
“I was a Minister of Petroleum when I was there for four years. Go to Chad Basin and see what we established there, and then you go to Sokoto Basin. So, we have to pray hard and also thank God.
“We fight for our land from the groups that are trying to destroy Nigeria, but we are very lucky. I am very happy that Nigerians showed me support, they identified with me and I identified with them also.”
According to the statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari during the state banquet to conclude his one-day official visit to Kano after launching several projects, urged citizens to appreciate what they had.
He said, “We have a great country, but we do not appreciate it until we visit our neighbours and other countries where the preoccupation is for people to have one good meal a day.”
He also described ongoing infrastructure development nationwide as “fantastic,” and urged citizens to appreciate what they have as the country’s situation is not dire compared with her neighbours.
▪︎ Additional report by The Punch