Nigeria: What Happened After Zamfara University Students Were Abducted – Matawalle

The two Zamfara-born politicians have been at loggerheads since the beginning of the 2022 political campaigns.

The Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, has described how the Governor of Zamfara State, Dauda Lawal refused to take his calls in the wake of the abduction of students of the Federal University, Gusau.

Mr Matawalle, who is the immediate past governor of the state, in an interview with a Hausa news website, DCL Hausa, Monday night, said Mr Lawal “ran away” from the state a day after the students were abducted while a federal government delegation was making efforts to meet him to discuss the abduction of the students.

The two politicians have been at loggerheads since the beginning of political campaigns in 2022.

Mr Lawal, the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) defeated Mr Matawalle of the All Progressives Congress (APC)during the contest.

The former governor was referring to the abduction of 24 students of Federal University Gusau in September by terrorists. Some of those abducted have been rescued.

“Even when they (university students) were abducted, he was in Zamfara but he ran away in the morning and went to America for his dubious scheming. He went to America to plan evil things against our president. He was in Zamfara when it (abduction) took place but ran away. If I was the one who left the state when the girls (students) were abducted, I would have been in serious trouble (criticised).

‘After the abduction in Zamfara, Mr President called us (defence ministers) including the NSA (National Security Adviser) and asked us to go to Zamfara State, commiserate with them, meet the governor and visit the university, but I swear to God he (Mr Lawal) was not around when we called him. I swear to God I called him and also called his deputy but none of them answered my calls. I will show you the phone record to see for yourself.

“Minister Badaru (Abubakar Badaru, defence minister) couldn’t get him too. In fact, he (Mr Badaru) had to reach out to someone very close to him (Mr Lawal) before he called Mr Badaru back. I was sitting with Badaru and he (Mr Lawal) said he was in America and we should wait until when he returned. How could you abandon your state at that critical moment and run away if you are a good leader? He said he would reach out to us when he returns but up to now he has not done so,’ Mr Matawalle said.

The former governor said the delegation didn’t go to Zamfara State while the governor was away to avoid creating the impression that they were politicising insecurity in the state.

“We’re trying to see that they (abducted students) are released. In fact, when it happened, I was the one who called the army commander in Zamfara State and asked him to quickly send soldiers there (university) and he did that. And the commander himself went and dug trenches around the university,” Mr Matawalle added.

Governor responds

Reacting to the allegations, the governor’s spokesperson, Sulaiman Bala-Idris, said his principal didn’t run away from the state or country.

He said contrary to Mr Matawalle’s allegation, his principal travelled out of the country to attend the United General Assembly.

The spokesperson also said Mr Lawal didn’t refuse to answer phone calls from Mr Matawalle or any member of the federal government delegation.

“It is a lie. Because he travelled for UNGA on Thursday, 21st September, and the students were abducted on Friday night, 22nd September. It is just the usual Matawalle lies.

“It is also a lie. H. E (Mr Lawal) spoke with Badaru (defence minister) while he was at the UNGA. Please verify with Badaru. He will attest to this. Matawalle’s lies do not spare his boss, the minister for defence,” the spokesperson, in a series of WhatsApp messages to PREMIUM TIMES, said.

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