Junaid Mohammed, a former member of the Nigerian House of Representatives and chair of the House Committee on International Relations during Nigeria’s Second Republic, has come clean on alleged comments attributed to him that led to his recent arrest by the State Security Services (SSS). Last Friday, December 6, the SSS arrested Mr. Mohammed for allegedly making statements considered injurious to national security.
Mr. Mohammed was reported as stating that there would be bloodletting if President Goodluck Jonathan contested the 2015 presidential elections and if a candidate of northern extraction was not elected as Nigeria’s next president. The alleged statement earned him an invitation from the SSS for questioning.
However, speaking Saturday in an interview with SaharaTV, Mr. Mohammed described the alleged statement, made in an interview with the Sun newspaper, as a misrepresentation of his actual comments. He told SaharaTV that what he told the Sun was that “Goodluck [Jonathan] did not win the election in 2011,” adding that he based his assertion on what the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, had reportedly said.
According to Mr. Mohammed, the only way to safeguard democracy in Nigeria was to have credible elections. He added that the absence of such elections would spell doom for the country. “In a democracy, if you have no credible electoral register, there will be no democracy; there will be no election,” he told SaharaTV’s Omoyele Sowore.
He explained that Mr. Jega had admitted openly that there were problems with the registration exercise which formed the very building blocks of a credible election. He stated that some of the equipment used by INEC were substandard, a situation made worse by the pitiable nature of electricity supply in Nigeria.
Mr. Mohammed summed up what he actually said in the Sun interview: “If there is going to be a credible election, Goodluck [Jonathan] will not win that election and if there was an attempt to rig that election the way previous elections were rigged, there would be violence.”
The former legislator contended that Nigerians have had enough of bad governance. He also stated that Nigeria’s sharp drop in an index that rates corruption index was a clear indication of where the country was going and why Nigerians would resort to violence if President Jonathan tried to use unorthodox means to retain power.
Mr. Mohammed argued that Nigeria has had a long spell of poorly organized elections, insisting that it was time to pull the brakes on this phenomenon. “From 1999, from Obasanjo till today, there has never been a credible election in Nigeria,” he said.
He told SaharaTV that, after his interview with the Sun, he was approached by SSS operatives in Kano who invited him to have a ‘chat’ with their Director. At the offices of the SSS, Mr. Mohammed said he explained his position to the interrogators, dispelling the earlier comments attributed to him. He said he explained that he never called for violence, but suggested that President Jonathan had not done enough to merit a second term. “I believe Goodluck [Jonathan] will not be able to win the election based on his performance. He will not be able to win elections because he has been a very bad president and he has not served anybody’s purpose except his tribal group and the cabal.”
He denied calling the president a nincompoop and advocating for zoning in the country. He also referred to the proposed national conference as a “bloody waste of time.”