Nigeria’s former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has demanded 200 billion naira from the chairman of the Northern Elders Forum, Paul Unongo, for accusing him of sponsoring the killings by suspected herdsmen across the country. Unongo has 30 days to make the payment.
The former vice president has also given the northern leader seven days ultimatum to retract what he termed mischievous allegations and tender an unconditional apology to him. Unongo had claimed that Atiku was financing Miyetti Allah, an association of cattle breeders.
His claim was made in the wake of recent killings by suspected herdsmen in Benue state, North-central Nigeria. At least 20 persons were killed on New Year’s Day in Guma and Logo areas of the state, while many others were seriously injured. But the former vice president believes Unongo went too far.
“The above allegations aside from being frivolous, callous, baseless and unwarranted are utter falsehood and unjustified,” Atiku’s lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), said in a letter to the NEF chairman.“Your mischief has gravely defamed our client and painted him in very bad light as a sponsor and instigator of violence across the country, a character you know he does not possess.
“Having given much of his life to the service of his country in various capacities, rising to the enviable position of Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1999-2007, our client has continued to function as an elder statesman and stakeholder in the nation’s polity whose core interests lie in the general welfare and unity of the Nigerian populace devoid of ethnic/religious divides.
“As you very well know those unwarranted allegations calling our client the financier of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, an organisation you made out as the perpetrators of the heinous and wanton destruction of lives and property in Benue State in the recent past, is nothing but complete falsehood. Nothing can, indeed, be farther from the truth.“Take notice that our client takes strong exception to these allegations and considers same as an act of character assassination.”