Security staff at the Abuja House in London yesterday called in policemen to arrest a correspondent of The Guardian who was on the premises to see President Muhammadu Buhari and possibly interview him.
When the correspondent told a member of staff at the Abuja House, the official residence of the Nigerian High commissioner to the United Kingdom, yesterday afternoon that he had come to see the president, he replied: “As far as I’m concerned, he’s not here.”
At 2:50 p.m., when a black Mercedes jeep arrived, the occupant sitting by the driver rolled down the glass and asked the The Guardian correspondent, “why are you here?” “When I told him that l was a reporter with The Guardian and l had come to see if the president was there and to interview him, he looked quite irritated and replied angrily: ‘he’s not here, you can’t see anybody here.’ “
In an extraordinary move, two police officers, Constables Marlett and Stock, were called in by the security staff at the Abuja House to arrest the reporter. When both arrived on their motorcycles, they took the reporter’s name and date of birth and subsequently made a check on the national database, before staying around for about 20 minutes and then left.
Prior to that, the security staff threatened the reporter with the police when he called at the Kensington residence to interview President Buhari about his continued stay in the UK.
A few minutes after The Guardian arrived at the Abuja House, just after 1:00 p.m., wanting to speak to the high commissioner, the reporter was directed to go to the Embassy- Nigerian House at Northumberland Avenue. “Somebody should be there,” he was told.
Around 1:20 p.m., when a man and a teenage-looking girl wearing glasses pressed the buzzer, a security officer appeared to open the gate for the duo. When asked:”Is that the daughter of the president?” – judging by her resemblance of the First Lady- the security officer replied: “I don’t know.” He then reiterated that the reporter should go to the office at Northumberland Avenue.
When The Guardian pressed the buzzer about five minutes later, the security man sounded angry and threatened to call the police even when the reporter disclosed his identity and said he had come to speak to the president or any member of staff of the residence. “You should realise this is a private place and I will call the police,” he said. When he was immediately corrected and told that the reporter was standing outside in a public place, he then said:” l won’t speak to you again.”
But around 1:40 p.m., when two guests arrived, the reporter shook hand with one of them and asked, “have you come to see Mr. President?” He replied cheerfully, saying “yes”, but he didn’t enter the compound. He left about 15 minutes later.
Another security officer came out shortly after and told the reporter to move away from the main gate. “Excuse me, you can’t just stand here,” he said.
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was also at Abuja House, a strong indication that Buhari may actually be there. At 5:13p.m., Saraki emerged from the house in a black suit, accompanied by a male aide.
“Hello, Senate president, hello Senate president,” The Guardian said to him from outside the gate, before he entered an official car and was driven away.
Meanwhile, Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose has accused the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) of politicising the health status of President Buhari by their visitation to London which he described as “make-belief and too much of eye-service.”
Fayose said he had “temporarily suspended” his criticism of the president because of his health challenges. The governor spoke on a live programme tagged, ‘Meet Your Governor’ aired on the state-owned Ekiti Television and Radio Stations on Saturday.
Fayose who prayed for sound health for the president said his desire for a better Nigeria accounted for why he had been criticising the Federal Government when things were not done the right way.
“I don’t have any problem with the president; the only problem I have is with his handlers. They will say something today and say another tomorrow. Anybody can fall sick,” he said.
Besides, the Anglican Bishop, Diocese of Lagos West, Rt. Revd. James Olusola Odedeji yesterday cautioned Nigerians against wishing the president dead but rather pray for his health and wellbeing so that he could succeed in delivering his electoral promises to the nation.
Odedeji spoke at the induction and installation of Venerable Adegoke Oludare Agara as the Dean of Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral held at the church in Ikeja, Lagos.
He said: “It is unfortunate in this country that Nigerians do hate their leaders. The rate at which people are willing to wish the president of the country dead is alarming. What are we going to gain if he dies?’’