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LEMU PANEL REPORT: I WAS EXONERATED -BUHARI

By NBF News
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Former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, has said that the Sheikh Ahmed Lemu-led panel on the violence which erupted after the April 2011, presidential poll, did not in any way indict him.

Buhari said that the panel exonerated him rather than the perceived indictment arising from the statement that he asked people to protect their votes.

Sequel to the crisis, there were calls from some quarters that Buhari who was the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the April 2011, presidential election should be arrested.

Those who made the calls, alleged that Buhari's statement during the election campaign, triggered the violence that led to loss of lives in some parts of the country.

President Goodluck Jonathan, in the wake of the crisis, had set up the Sheik Ahmed Lemu-led panel to look into the crisis and make recommendation when necessary.

Submitting its report on Monday at the State House, Abuja, chairman of the committee, Sheik Ahmed Lemu, blamed some politicians, including Buhari, for the post 2011 elections violence that erupted in some parts of the country.

Lemu however, added that the committee, not being a judicial panel, avoided indicting any individual or group.

The report of the panel which was turned in exactly five months the panel was constituted, attributed the violence, partly to the statement credited to the former military leader shortly before the election that voters should 'guard their votes.'

The report also blamed successive regimes for not acting on past reports on violence and civil disturbances, by bringing perpetrators to book, noting that it facilitated the widespread of impunity by perpetrators of crimes and violence in the Nigerian society.

But speaking through his spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin, Buhari said that he was not indicted at all in what the Lemu panel has done.

'There is no indictment of General Buhari at all in what Lemu has done.

'If all they could quote was that General Buhari asked people to guard their votes, then they should also blame Jega because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also printed posters, asking people to vote, wait and protect their votes.

'All the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Nigeria should also be blamed because they asked people to register, to vote and protect their votes.

'So, we would have been worried if they have been able to come up to establish the allegations they are making after the elections, that General Buhari asked people to go and lynch people, which the panel set up has not been able to establish.

'Already, there is a case filed in court against the Presidential Spokesman, Reuben Abati, who made that kind of reckless allegation that General Buhari asked people to lynch. That case is already in the Lagos High Court.

'People should look more to the other recommendations of the panel rather than sensationalizing Buhari's asking people to defend their votes.

'They have talked about the other causes of the violence, which I think are the real causes of the violence: the zoning policy in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which turned the election into a North-South, Muslim-Christian thing, the question of poverty which they talked about, coupled with the way politics has been lucratized by politicians and other recommendations.'

These are the much, more fundamental issues.'
Odumakin further said that 'if all they could trace to Buhari was that he told people to guard their votes, I think the panel has just exonerated him from the vicious lies and propaganda that have stood against him.'

Buhari however commended the panel 'for the courage to do a painstaking job in identifying the right causes of the violence.'