In a dramatic turn of events, a large group of pro-democracy activists gathered at the National Assembly, demanding the immediate removal of Bello Muhammad Matawalle, the Minister of Defence, over the escalating insecurity issues plaguing Nigeria. The protesters, who came together under the banner of the Civil Society Advocacy Groups for Accountability and Probity, made their voices heard in a fervent call for action against the minister.
These protesters voiced their concerns about Matawalle’s alleged involvement in the ongoing crisis, particularly in Zamfara State, where insecurity has been a severe issue. They carried banners adorned with inscriptions demanding his dismissal, believing that he had ties to the bandits responsible for the loss of countless lives and property in the northern region of the country.
Accusing the Minister of Defence of complicity in the crisis, they held him responsible for the deteriorating state of security. They went further, calling on the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, to use his influence with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to ensure Matawalle’s immediate removal from office.
The spokesperson for the protesting group, Danesi Momoh, highlighted the minister’s recent indictment by a panel established by the Zamfara State government. He argued that allowing a person of questionable character to pass through the Senate’s screening process was contradictory to the legislature’s purported commitment to anti-corruption and socioeconomic hygiene.
Momoh remarked, “Your Excellency would recall that many well-meaning Nigerians were vehemently opposed to Matawelle’s appointment as a Minister of the Federal Republic following his antecedents as the Governor of Zamfara State. A Defence Portfolio to an inefficient and corrupt leader who allegedly romanced bandits was perhaps one of the biggest mistakes of this administration, but it can be corrected with the Senate giving a voice in that direction.”
The protesters also pointed out what they perceived as Matawalle’s history of financial malfeasance and administrative rascality. They alleged that his actions were driven by kleptomania and an apparent lack of integrity, as evidenced by his alleged embezzlement of billions of Naira through the Zamfara Cargo Airport project.
In their petition, the protesters expressed their concerns, stating, “If a barefaced liar like Matawelle is allowed to remain in power as the Minister of Defence or in any other capacity, the funds meant for fighting insecurity and indeed protecting our territorial integrity will not only be embezzled but end up in the hands of bandits and terrorists with no sense of accountability.”
They called upon the Senate to take action to restore hope in good governance and to fulfill its role in the nation’s interest. The protesters indicated that they would also apply pressure on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to remove the minister from his position.
The petition further emphasized that Matawalle posed a significant national security threat and possessed a tainted personality, rendering him unfit for membership in the Federal Executive Council. The Senate’s intervention was deemed essential to ensure his removal from the public office space.
Malam Salihu Abdullahi, the Director Sergeant at Arms of the National Assembly, received the petition on behalf of the Senate President. He expressed his satisfaction with the peaceful and orderly conduct of the protesters and assured them that their grievances would be conveyed to the appropriate quarters.
The protest at the National Assembly highlights the increasing frustration and concerns of many Nigerians regarding the deteriorating security situation in the country. Calls for accountability and transparency in government actions have grown louder, with protesters demanding that those in power uphold high standards of character and integrity.
As this situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how the government and the Senate will respond to these calls for the removal of the Defence Minister. In the face of mounting pressure from concerned citizens, the nation’s leadership will need to carefully consider its actions to address the security challenges and the demands for accountability and good governance.