I hounded Nigerians, secretly jailed them; I was a ruthless dictator, says Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has revealed how he hounded and secretly put in dungeon Nigerians he considered corrupt and enemies of his military regime, admitting that he was a ruthless dictator.

“When I came in uniform (as a military dictator), much younger and a bit ruthless, I arrested those I thought were corrupt and detained them,” Mr Buhari stated matter-of-factly. 

He added, “In those days, you have to declare your assets before you come on board. With the assets that you declared and what you have now, you have to explain the difference. If you cannot explain the difference, we take it away from you, and we quietly put you in Kirikiri (jail) or somewhere else.”

The Nigerian president stated this while inaugurating the Muhammadu Indimi Centre for Distance Learning and International Conference on Thursday at the University of Maiduguri.

Mr Buhari and other military dictators that ruled Nigeria have never been tried in court for their rights abuses and other atrocities. His current regime is replete with rights abuses, enforced disappearances, including clandestine raids on judges and activists’ homes.

In his second coming as an elected civilian head of state, Mr Buhari noted that Nigerians “will be in (a) position to judge what this administration has done under my leadership.”

“When we came, the most difficult one was fighting corruption,” the president stressed.

He also noted that he would devote his remaining time in office to tackle the worsening deterioration of insecurity and grinding poverty in Africa’s most populous nation.

“One, to secure the country. If I leave the country unsecured, it cannot be managed,” the president asserted. “Secondly, the economy. We have a lot of people who are unemployed.”

Speaking further on his dictatorial rule and its so-called fight against corruption, Mr Buhari ruefully recalled that he too was given a dose of his medicine.

“But eventually, I myself was arrested, and for three-and-a-quarter years I was detained. I think when they found out that I did not get a kobo from anybody, they let me go,” added Mr Buhari. “So I joined partisans politics; I said let me see what other Nigerians are gaining from this babban riga. I joined them, and I am in my final term.”

Mr Buhari, who has at least a year and a half to spend in power, vowed to resist the urge to stay longer than the constitutional two terms of office.

“I swear by the holy Qur’an that I will uphold the constitution of the country, and by that, I must relinquish power in 17 months’ time,” the former despot pledged. “I will go, God’s willing. I hope whoever is coming after me will try to do the three things I tried to do.”


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