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Did Buhari say Muslims should only vote for Muslim leaders?

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  1. 0

    Answer: NO.

    In June 2001, Sheikh Sidi Attahiru Ibrahim launched his book at a Dan Fodio University event. General Muhammadu Buhari was invited to chair the event, where he spoke ex-tempore.

    Later that month, Buhari granted an interview to Rev, Fr. Matthew Hassan Kukah (present day Catholic Bishop of Sokoto) confirming what he said at the book launch. Here is the relevant portion of Kukah’s report on what Buhari said during their June 23, 2001 conversation (which was published in the Weekly Trust edition of July 6-12, 2001)

    “During the course of my comments, I drew attention to the fact that the introduction of Sharia had become one of the main issues in this new dispensation. I explained that Sharia, however, has been with us well before the British colonized Nigeria. Now, Sharia has been introduced in many Northern states and Sokoto is one of the states that has already adopted Sharia. It must be pointed out however that Sharia is applicable only to Muslims. Those elements that have taken the law into their hands and use the opportunity to molest other non-Muslims are not helping the cause. What is amore, they are like bad policemen or judges who are making the enforcement of justice so difficult in Nigeria. Their shortcoming does not do the police force or the judiciary any good, but these acts do not detract from the imperative of both institutions. Midway through our democracy, we have time now to assess the situation on ground in terms of making our choice in the next elections. Vote for good men whether they are in Borno, Katsina, Sokoto or wherever. Vote for those who will protect your interest. This, Rev. Father, is the summary of every thing I said and the tapes are there.” (1)

    Nothing controversial in any portion of that statement, I’d say?

    The controversy began when Ahmed Oyerinde, a long time Sokoto correspondent for ThisDay and other Newspapers, (who was not at the venue of the book launch when Buhari spoke) made up the false quote and reported this as fact in ThisDay. In the aftermath of his report, the tape of the event was played and no such statement was found there. Oyerinde later confessed to his Editors that he was not at the event and did not hear Buhari say any such thing. I was told that ThisDay later published a retraction of the report. (2)

    For the record, Oyerinde, sadly now late, had been the subject of a disciplinary investigation by Nigerian Press watchdogs for allegations of taking money to write false and mischievous stories. The allegations were confirmed and he was reprimanded. One of these investigations dates back to 1990. (3)

    Yet, despite Buhari’s many denials, and the defence of neutral observers like Fr. Kukah & Garba Shehu the peddlers of this lie keep repeating them maliciously.

    1. Kukah, Matthew Hassan, Weekly Trust Newspaper, Abuja, July 6-12, 2001

    2. Private conversation with a Senior ThisDay editor with close knowledge of the 2001 incident on Dec. 30, 2014

    3. Shehu, Garba, Premium Times,

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