Retired Major General Zamani Lekwot, has reacted to the call by Muslim scholars on a revisit to his death sentence, saying his life is in the hand of God and not detractors wishing him dead.
Lekwot spoke in an interview on Sunday, in response to the call by the Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria that his execution and those of others found complicit in the bloody riot in Zango-Kataf, would bring lasting peace to the killings in Southern Kaduna.
Lekwot, Major James Atomic Kude(retd), and others were sentenced to death for their involvement in the Zango-Kataf riots that claimed several lives in 1992 under the Gen. Babangida military regime.
The Council had also called for the revisit of the death sentence passed on those convicted for that riot (Zango-Kataf).
Speaking to journalists shortly after the interdenominational service and indoor protest organized by the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigerian, Lekwot, a former governor of old Rivers State, said only God could determine his life and not those craving for violence under the current democratic dispensation.
President of CAN, Dr. Ayokunle, who was present at the interdenominational service/protest called for an end to the killings in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the country.
Lekwot said that all genuine religious leaders were supposed to preach and love, wondering why the Council was preaching hate and division in the country.
“What Nigeria needed at this moment was genuine tolerance regardless of ethnic or religious affinities and not hatred,” he said.
Lekwot said his life was not in the hands of the Muslim Scholars but in the hands of God.
“I have nothing to say. My life-like everybody’s life is in the hand of God, not the detractors. The detractors and evil forces that are preaching hate, trying to throw spanner in the works, will fail. May God expose them in all ramifications”
Asked if he was afraid of the threat to his life, the former Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy said, “afraid”? I am a trained professional soldier and a trained commander.”
“What the country needs is peace. We need all Nigerians to live together in peace and unity.
“All genuine religious leaders are supposed to preach peace and love. Why are there people preaching hate and division?
“The Zango-Kataf they are talking about. Yes. The killings were unfortunate but the dispute was the relocation of the market. Some people didn’t want it. At the end of the day, the Commission of Inquiry was set up; recommendations were made and the Mua’azu Committee’s recommendations had been implemented
“Those that are reverting to it are clever by half. What we need in our country is genuine tolerance and love and peace. We have lived together for a very long time.
“Now, by what they are saying, they are now telling the reason some armed foreign bandits are imported to destroy the country.
“How does that (revisiting his case) address the issue(of killings in Southern Kaduna). So, what is happening in Kaduna and by extension to other parts of the country are a bad omen to our unity and stability.”
Commenting on remarks by Commander of the Operation Safe Haven that the killings in Southern Kaduna were carried out by criminal elements from both sides of the divide, Lekwot, said, as professionals, military officers(commanders) were supposed to be neutral at all settings.
“This would earn them the confidence of the people. That was a very unfortunate statement from a military commander.”
“As professionals, security people are supposed to be neutral in every setting so as to inculcate the confidence of everybody. In other words, when that happens, the corporation of all sides will emerge.
“But in this setting the military people need intelligence. Credible intelligence which they will use for the operation. What he said was the utterance of the government which boils down to describing what happened,” he said.
On the White Paper committee set up by governor Nasir El-Rufai to revisit the Zango-Kataf riot, the former military governor said, government at this point ought to preoccupy itself on how to proffer solutions to the killings in Southern Kaduna.
“Given the heat of what is going on – the massive slaughter of innocent villagers, that should preoccupy everybody’s mind and not to revisit what had been concluded. Fine, if that is his own solution, we are waiting to see how he is going to resuscitate what had been concluded.
“By a White Paper that was issued in respect of the issue, is that White Paper they are trying to produce going to be White Paper on top of White paper,” Lekwot said.