Abuja — One of the key contenders for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential ticket, former military president Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has alleged attempts by unidentified persons to blackmail him and perhaps frustrate his bid for the presidency.
Making this revelation in a release signed by one of his aides and made available to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, IBB described the attempted blackmail as not only wicked and ill-conceived but could have been the handiwork of politicians desperate to destroy him.
According to the release, the presidential aspirant was accused, through a GSM text message being circulated among Nigerians, of being behind a purported plan by Muslims to attack their Christian neighbours resident in the northern part of the country.
Excerpts of the release signed by the IBB campaign's director of press, Prince Kassim Afegbua, and entitled 'Count IBB out of any planned attack on Christians and Muslims', read: "Our attention has been drawn to a very damaging, spurious, untrue ill-motivated and orchestrated text messages being circulated by people who are desperate to blackmail our presidential aspirant Gen. IBB, linking him to a purported attempt by Muslims to attack Christians in the north.
"To all intents and purposes, this latest blackmail is not only wicked and ill-conceived, but further goes to show how desperate politicians could go to blackmail people. No matter the motive, it is conceived in bad taste and should be condemned in all its ramifications. Gen. IBB has been in the forefront of those crusaders who believe in religious harmony in the country. As a president, he was able to reopen bilateral relations with Israel which paved the way for our Christian brothers and sisters to go on Holy Pilgrimage. He neither discriminates against Christians nor does he engage in anything that tends to undermine the unity of the nation.
"For anybody for whatever motivation to link him with such dastardly intention of creating bad blood among Muslims and Christians is a clear-cut attempt to blackmail him to dim his soaring popularity in the build-up to the 2011 election. We abhor this ill-conceived intention in all its entirety. We condemn wholly the motive. We say tufiakwa to anyone who nurtures such devilish intention. Nigeria's secular status has come to stay and anyone who tries to undermine such recognition might just be inviting crisis to the country.
"We therefore call on all to disregard the ill-conceived text message and join hands with IBB in his quest to provide sound and purposeful leadership to the country through the ballot box. We call on everyone to be more vigilant in order to arrest this ugly situation and those behind the purported text message".
Gen. Babangida's chief campaigner Chief Raymond Dokpesi recently alleged plans by government agents to assassinate him, drawing a stern denial by the presidency. Only penultimate week, IBB publicly declared his intention to seek the PDP ticket in the 2011 presidential election.
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