…Says he was in Imo for constitution review assignment
…Gulak’s killers won’t go unpunished – Uzodimma
…Arewa youths withdraw threat against Hope Uzodimma, assure Igbo of safety in North
…Ohanaeze, Northern govs, Ngige, Reps minority caucus, others mourn
…APC, PDP bicker
By Clifford Ndujihe, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Omeiza Ajayi, Dirisu Yakubu, Marie-Therese Nanlong, Luminous Jannamike & Charly Agwam
“On Sunday morning, I was in my room waiting for his driver to come so that we can go to the airport to bring him home. It was our father’s personal assistant that first called via the telephone to ask us if we have heard what happened. When we said ‘no’, he ended the call.
“Maybe he did not want to break the news to us. A few minutes later, our eldest brother came into the house crying, and he told us about the news of our father’s death. The first thing I did was to call his telephone line to confirm and it did not go through. Afterward, everybody in the house began to cry.”
That was how the news of the death of Alhaji Ahmed Ali Gulak, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and one-time political adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, hit his immediate family, Mohammed, his son disclosed, yesterday.
Gulak was killed by gunmen on his way to Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, Imo State on Sunday morning.
Speaking on the incident, Mohammed told BBC Pidgin that his father was in Imo as part of the constitutional review committee, adding that he was in his room on Sunday morning, waiting for a driver to take them to the airport to receive his father before news of the shooting broke.
According to him, Gulak’s personal assistant was the first person to call the family via telephone to ask if they had heard what happened and ended the call when the response was in the negative.
Mohammed said the oldest son broke the news to the family when he entered the house in tears. On what took Gulak to Imo, he said the deceased was part of the committee on ongoing constitution review.
“On Saturday, I called him at exactly 8pm to greet and wish him safe journey back home the following day. He was happy and told me ‘God bless you, my son’,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed spoke as the murder of Gulak continued to elicit condemnation in the polity. Among those who mourned the late politician, yesterday were Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State;Northern governors; Ohanaeze Ndigbo; APC; House of Representatives Minority Caucus; Labour and Employment Minister, Dr Chris Ngige, former presidential candidate, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim; and Arewa youths among others.
Gulak’s killers won’t go unpunished – Uzodimma
For the first time since Gulak was gunned down, Governor Hope Uzodimma spoke yesterday, assuring that his killers will not escape punishment.
Speaking at a media briefing, Uzodimma said murder is “not in our character as Igbo”, adding that “Imo people are very hospitable.”
Commending the Police for the progress they have made in the investigation of the incident, he said: “I was shocked to my marrows when the sad news of his callous murder was broken to me. I was getting ready to go to church when the sad news came and I could not attend the service again. It was simply one of the most devastating news I have had in my life and I am yet to recover from the shock.
“Alhaji Ahmed Gulak was in Imo State for a national assignment. He came to Owerri with the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendment. Being a humble man, he chose to travel incognito, according to his friend who was with him.
“Someone must have trailed him from the hotel to the airport. That is exactly why his gruesome murder appears to be a clear case of political assassination.
“According to reports by the police, he was shot in cold blood and the assailants did not remove a pin from him. It is most benumbing that people chose to waste such innocent blood in such a dastardly and cowardly manner.
“Let me make it very clear that everything will be done by security agencies to find those who murdered Gulak and their sponsors. They will not, by the grace of God, escape their deserved punishment.
“This is not in our character as Igbo, not in our tradition nor in our culture. We must condemn this callous act.”
The governor added that his administration is “reaching out and will continue to reach out” to families of victims of kidnapping, armed robberies, banditry and “stray bullets.”
Arewa youths withdraw threat against Uzodimma
Meanwhile, Arewa youths under the aegis of the Northern Youth Council of Nigeria, yesterday, withdrew their threat to declare Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State persona non grata in the North, if he failed to produce Gulak’s killers within two weeks.
Their decision to rescind the threat followed the elimination of the suspected killers by the police. This was made known in a statement by President of the council, Dr. Abubakar-Sadiq Isah, in Abuja.
The statement read in part: “The Northern Youths Council of Nigeria, NYCN, have received with joy the news of the timely response of Police operatives that intercepted, arrested and eliminated the IPOB/ESN terrorists who allegedly masterminded the gruesome assassination of our respectable elder, Barr Ahmed Ali Gulak, a chieftain of the APC and one-time political adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“The proactive approach of the joint security operation has in no small measure calmed already frayed nerves in the Northern region, especially among the youths and renewed our confidence in the ability of the Police to stamp out criminal elements in the country, if they are willing and supported to do so.
“While we withdraw our threat on Governor Hope Uzodimma whom we issued an ultimatum for immediate arrest and prosecution of the culprits, we wish to reassure our loving Igbo brothers and sisters living in the Northern part of Nigeria of security and sound well-being as they share in our solidarity for a united, secured and prosperous nation.”
Gulak’s killing negates Igbo custom, says Ohanaeze
Also, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in a statement by its spokesman, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, described Gulak’s murder as “a death too many because of the wrong signal it had sent to the general public.”
Ogbonnia stated that the killing negated Igbo custom on how a visitor should be treated, saying: “The Igbo custom places a very high premium on the well-being and hospitality of a guest,” and the host would even “pay the supreme price in order to protect the life of a guest.”
READ ALSO: Gulak: Arewa youths withdraw threat against Hope Uzodinma, assure Igbos of safety in North
The statement partly read: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo, led by Ambassador George Obiozor expresses great concern over the recent developments in the South-East of Nigeria; a zone noted for peace, tranquility, hard work and smooth economic activities.
“Obiozor is saddened by the death of Ahmed Gulak. He described Gulak as an ebullient and sagacious achiever, a detribalized patriot whose active presence was felt in any gathering… Gulak was never on the sideline. He was a consummate politician.
“Our sympathy goes to the immediate family of Gulak and the good people of Adamawa State for this calamity. We pray to God to grant them the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”
PDP excited over mass violence, APC alleges
The ruling APC expressed shock over the “barbaric killing” of Gulak, accusing the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of being excited about cases of blind and murderous violence against citizens.
National Secretary, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC of the APC,
Senator John James Akpanudoedehe disclosed this in a statement.
“While majority of Nigerians sympathise with the victims of crimes in the country, it is discernible that the Peoples Democratic Party is apparently excited about the security incidents being perpetrated by evil-doers against the citizens,” APC stated.
The statement reiterated the need for continuous support and cooperation with the security services who put dear lives on the line to protect Nigerians.
“The APC, like all well-meaning Nigerians is calling for national unity to fight crimes in the country and urge relevant security agencies to leave no stone unturned in their efforts to track down and swiftly bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.
“The party joins Nigerians to mourn his death and condemn his murderers in the strongest possible terms. We commiserate with his immediate family as well as the government and people of Adamawa State,” the party stated.
The PDP had in a statement on Sunday accused the APC of being “responsible for the escalated tension, indignation, violence, mass killing, kidnapping, terrorism and banditry ravaging various parts of our country.”
Don’t politicize Gulak’s murder, PDP replies APC
Reacting to the APC’s allegation, the PDP cautioned the ruling party against politicizing Gulak’s murder, and insisted that it stands by its earlier position that the APC and its leaders are responsible for the mass killings recorded in the country in the past few years.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the resort to blackmail, threats and attack on the PDP and other well-meaning Nigerians “as witnessed in APC’ statement today, in which it attempted to trivialize, politicize and dismiss the alarming violence in the country, cannot deter the PDP from further exposing the atrocities of the APC and its leaders.”
The statement read in part: “The APC and its government would rather blame victims of violence instead of going after the assailants and bringing them to book as witnessed in the case of the 43 rice farmers killed by terrorists in Borno as well as the murder of the former political adviser to erstwhile President, Goodluck Jonathan, Barr. Ahmed Gulak.
“Our party sternly berates the national leadership of the APC for seeking, in its press statement today, to politicize the gruesome murder of a prominent Nigerian like Ahmed Gulak, an incident that happened in a state under its control, instead of forcefully condemning that act and giving its government a definite marching order to bring the culprits to book.
“Nigerians are still expecting some explanations from the APC and its government over that gruesome murder in Ngor-Okpalla.
“Our party insists that every material evidence shows that the APC and its leaders are implementing their Janjaweed agenda to balkanize and destroy our nation through their unholy body language, divisive policies, violent acts, abuse of human rights, disregard to our national sensibilities and shameful patronizing of terrorists and bandits, which have led to widespread killings, violence and dissonances across our nation.”
Gulak’s killing, a criminal act – Northern govs
On their part, Governors of the 19 northern states also condemned the murder of Gulak saying the unfortunate incident was a criminal act that must not be left unpunished.
The governors cautioned against insinuations and politicizing of the incident which they said could lead to further violence.
This is even as they expressed disgust over yet another abduction of innocent citizens across three local councils of Niger State including students and teachers of an Islamiya school in the state.
The governors in a statement by their Chairman and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong through his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Makut Macham, said the horrible security situation needs to be brought to an end in order to give respite for the people to engage in their legitimate activities without molestation.
It read in part: “The Northern Governors Forum has described the assassination of former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Matters, Ahmed Gulak as most unfortunate and totally condemnable. Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong while reacting to the killing said the sad event is a criminal act that must be condemned in totality.
“Lalong said the killing of Gulak must be seen as a criminal act and treated as such, warning against insinuations and politicization that could lead to further violence. The report by the police that it has identified and engaged the suspected killers of the late politician should further be consolidated upon to enable security agencies forestall future occurrence.”
Minority Reps demand Justice
The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives, in a statement by its Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, described the assassination of Gulak as “wicked and barbaric and urged the police and other security agencies to fish out the assailants.”
“Moreover, the minority caucus is heavily disturbed by the worsening insecurity, violence and killings in Imo, particularly since the All Progressives Congress administration took over the state.
“As representatives of the people, our caucus believes that the situation has gone beyond the capacity of the government of Imo State, especially given its failure to gain control since inception.”
Olawepo-Hashim sues for calm, urges Northerners not to revenge
Oil and gas mogul, and presidential candidate in the 2019 presidential election, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, described the gruesome murder of the Adamawa politician as a cowardly act, adding that the sad development is a reprehensible act that could plunge the nation into further conflict if not well handled.
A statement issued Monday by his media office, quoted Olawepo-Hashim as saying that “the murder is reminiscent of First Republic killings” but appealed to Northerners to avoid any act of reprisal in this moment of grief.
“In this 2021, we should bear the pain as a sacrifice for national unity. We need no revenge action as the perpetrators of this evil act have been promptly apprehended and will certainly be brought to justice by the police.” Olawepo-Hashim noted.
Speaking further, Olawepo-Hashim appealed “to northern youths, in the name of God to maintain dignified calm even in the face of this obvious provocation. There should be no reprisal attack, it is unnecessary.”
Ndigbo can’t afford to be linked to senseless murder – Ngige
Also condemning the killing, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said that Ndigbo cannot afford to be linked to a senseless murder.
“It is not in our character as Ndigbo to shed blood for any reason and for any cause. Peace, consultation and accommodation are integral to our republicanism as a race . Ndigbo cannot afford to be linked to a senseless murder or any other action that can bitterly sour our relationship with our brothers from other parts of Nigeria,” he said
The minister appealed to all political actors and aggrieved youths in Imo State and every state in the South East to immediately halt the escalating violence and embrace dialogue.
He said, “ I wish to appeal to all political actors and youths in Imo State, indeed all states in the South East to reject violence as a means to address the challenges we face as Ndigbo in Nigeria.
“I further advise all aggrieved persons whether they are politicians or youths to eschew violence as there is nothing that cannot be resolved through dialogue.
“Late Ahmed Gulak was a friend. While he served President Jonathan as Political Adviser, I was in the Seventh Senate and we had a very good relationship. We spoke during the Ramadan fasting and had our last encounter during Sallah. It is quite shocking Ahmed died in such a regretful circumstance.
“I wish to condole the government and good people of Adamawa State over this tragic loss, especially his immediate family, relatives and friends and pray that Almighty God will accept his soul and grant him eternal rest.”
Gulak’s death not North versus South East — Northern youths
On its part, Arewa Youth for Peace and Security, AYPS, said the killing of the APC chieftain was political.
National President of the group, Salisu Magaji, cautioned Nigerians against giving Gulak’s murder ethnic coloration, noting that northern elders and leaders have been going to the South-East on daily basis without any problem and Igbo have also been going about their legitimate businesses in the North without any hitch.
Speaking with journalists in Bauchi, he advised Nigerians not to allow the assassination of Gulak to be used to further cause division and disunity among Nigerians.
“Gulak was a PDP man before he joined APC. He was the chairman of APC governorship primaries in Imo State in 2018. He complained that some people wanted to abduct him several times but never succeeded.
“Gulak alleged that he was given a bribe of two million dollars which he turned down. Nigerians are aware of these allegations because he complained publicly. APC lost the election and Ihedioha won on the platform of PDP.
“Later, Hope Uzodimma was given the slot as governor for Imo State. Gulak went to Imo to see Uzodinma so this is not an issue of North versus South-East.”
Vanguard News Nigeria