The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has denied some pictures in the media, in which its acting Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, was alleged to be in company of the Islamic preacher, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, who is negotiating with kidnappers in the Northern parts of the country.
Afenifere, in a release by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, said its Leader as a lawyer, is not only a man of peace for whom human rights matter a lot, he is never known to be in cahoots with any criminal or those who keep company with alleged criminals and bandits.
He maintained that the pictures being circulated in which Adebanjo was seen in the same flight with Gumi and later in a handshake in the presence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, were taken in 2018 in the run-up to the presidential election that took place in 2019.
The statement reads in part, “It would be recalled that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar elicited the assistance of various important Nigerian personalities to help him secure the support of his former boss, Obasanjo, in his (Abubakar’s) bid to become the country’s President then. Those Atiku Abubakar approached for this purpose included Sokoto Catholic Archibishop, Mathew Hassan Kukah, Bishop David Oyedepo, Founder of Living Faith Church, and Senator Ben Bruce, among others.
“The picture taken in the plane was when the delegation was being flown to Abeokuta, Ogun State home of Chief Obasanjo. Chief Adebanjo was in rear of the private jet of Atiku Abubakar that convened the team to Obasanjo. Those on the same flight with Gumi and Chief Adebanjo included: National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prince Uche Secondus. As at that time, Pa Adebanjo was not even the Leader of Afenifere.
“The reports of the visit to Obasanjo in 2018 were widely made in the news media of that year, 2018. Among them were the Daily Post of October 11, Punch Newspaper of the same date, The Eagleonline of October 12, 2018, Premium Times of October 14, 2018, to mention a few.
“Thus, the pictures being circulated were taken over two years ago, long before kidnapping became this rampart and long before Gumi engaged in negotiating for bandits.
“As a matter of fact, it is on record that Chief Adebanjo condemned the present actions of Gumi as contained in, among others, the statement jointly issued by Adebanjo-led Afenifere, PANDEF, Ohaneze and Middle Belt Forum, as reported by Vanguard newspaper edition of February 28, 2021.”