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Changes must abide by norms of democracy, presidency replies ex-defence chief’s comment on ‘violent restructuring’

Why Buhari asked Imo people to vote candidate of their choice –Presidency

The Presidency on Sunday said democracy and not violence was a known constitutional means of ensuring changes in a country.

The Presidency, in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, described a comment credited to a former Chief of Defense Staff, Alexander Ogomudia, that the country may be violently restructured as unacceptable.

The former defence chief made the statement at the Good Governance Lecture organised by the Catholic Church of Warri’s Justice Development and Peace Commission.

He had warned in his the keynote address that the continued suppression of the agitations for the restructuring of the country could lead to a violent breakup of the country.

He also called on those opposed to restructuring to borrow a leaf from the break-up of Yugoslavia and Sudan, adding that even in Spain the Catalonians want to break away and that in Britain, Scotland seeks autonomy.

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Shehu said: “This vituperation, coming from a former military chief speaks volumes about the mindset of groups of citizens who have yet to accept democracy as a form of government.

“It is very important to stress that we, as a nation, are a constitutional democracy and changes to the country in structure, its systems, policy and politics must abide by the norms of democracy, otherwise they would be extrajudicial and therefore unconstitutional.

“This system has subsisted, uninterrupted, for upward of 20 years and still going, and the country’s law courts, with its armed forces are primed at all times to defend it, using all means that are lawful.

“The biggest challenge to the country today is not necessarily from perceived regional or state imbalances or conflicts between the government at the centre and states but from the mindsets and entities rooted in the idea of violence as a means to change.

“Such individuals, groups and entities peddling ideologies of violence and hate are closed to the notion of healthy dialogue through popular platforms including elected parliaments, hence only open to violence and destruction as their means.

“This administration under President Muhammadu Buhari is strongly of the view that democracy that is self-correcting under the laws as we have is the answer to growing calls for violence and a means to change in the structure, form and content of the union that binds us as one country.”

On Ogomudia’s allegation that government has not done anything on the murder of another Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, the Presidency said: “The truth is, the investigation instituted by Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, the current Chief of Defence Staff, has led to the arrest of 14 suspects based on their alleged involvement in a report that has been sent to the police and the Nigerian Air Force for further action.”

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