Negotiate, return your loot in peace, Buhari tells looters

President Muhammadu Buhari, flanked by the Minister of Defence, Brigadier-General Mansur Mohammed Dan-Ali (second left) and others, praying at Mambilla Barracks, to mark the Eid-el-Fitri celebration, in Abuja, on Wednesday.

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has told looters of country’s treasury to negotiate and return the money which does not belong to them and be in peace.

He made the assertion on Wednesday, while receiving Sallah homage paid on him by some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), led by the minister, Bello Mohammed, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to him, Nigeria was seriously in need of the stolen funds to uplift the quality of life of its citizens.

“Please tell those with plenty of money which does not belong to them should try and negotiate and return it in peace, so that both they and us will be in peace. Otherwise, we will continue to look for it.”

He signalled that he was comfortable with negotiated refund of money stolen from the public treasury and, therefore, advised all that may be in possession of public funds to explore the opportunity or face the consequences.

The president also warned the militants should be told that the unity of Nigeria was not negotiable.

He cited a quote from a former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, that “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done.”

The president appealed to Niger Delta militants to give Nigeria a chance and desist from sabotaging oil and gas facilities in the region, just as he assured that justice would be done in terms of what was due to the area.

“On security, we have made a lot of improvement. We are now concentrating on the militants to know how many of them in terms of groupings, leadership and plead with them to try and give Nigeria a chance.

“I assure them of the saying by General Gowon that to keep Nigeria is a task that must be done.

“Those days, we never thought of oil. All we were concerned about was one Nigeria.

“So, please, pass this across to the militants, that one Nigeria is not negotiable and they had better accept.

“Nigerian constitution is clear as to what they should get and I assure them there will be justice,” he said.

The president noted the problems which had continued to beset the country and expressed confidence that the agricultural sector would soon bounce back to enable the country feed itself.

According to him, “I know that there are a lot of problems in the country, but it’s unfortunate the Minister of Agriculture is not here, he is working very hard.

“The Governor of Central Bank is helping him by lending him money outside the budget, so that he can assist states, especially those states, about 13 of them, which can produce rice.

“That programme is good. It is giving us confidence; it is getting the farmers into the farm.”

In his remarks earlier, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo observed that the president had lost weight, but expressed confidence that now that the Ramadan fast was over, he would regain the lost weight.

He prayed for good health for President Buhari to enable him to continue the task of rebuilding the county.

Osinbajo noted that the past one year had been tough for the government and Nigerians, because the Buhari-led administration had been busy clearing up the mess it met on ground.

He, however, stressed the administration’s commitment to placing the country on a sound footing, saying: “things are already looking up.’’

He prayed that the president would continue to get the wisdom and strength to overcome all challenges facing the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the Minister of FCT, Alhaji Muhammed Bello and the leadership of the Presidential Villa Chapel presented Sallah greeting cards to the president.

Buhari had earlier performed the ‘two-Raka’at Eid-el-Fitri prayer at the Mogadishu Mosque in Abuja.

The prayer was led by the Chief Imam of the Mosque, Major Hamisu Mustapha, whose sermon centred on the need for Muslim faithful to continue to exhibit the virtues of the Ramadan fast.