The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has denied an allegation that he attacked the Ilorin Emirate in a recent speech.
According to The Nation Newspaper, a group of traditional leaders alleged Mr Muhammed attacked the emirate after the victory of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency of Kwara State by-election held on November 17.
In a statement he signed and made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, the minister denied the allegation, saying his statement was mischievously twisted.
"My attention has been drawn to a press conference addressed by the
Ilorin Emirate Magaji/Alangua Forum in Ilorin on Tuesday, 4 December 2018, during which I was alleged to have said that the 'Berlin Wall' of the Ilorin Emirate had been broken by the outcome of the 17 November 2018 by-election in the Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency of Kwara State."
According to Mr Muhammed, those who made the allegation referred to a news item published in The Nation newspaper of November 19 with the caption "Kwara Berlin Wall Broken, Says Lai Mohammed."
He said it is true that he mentioned the Berlin Wall in his speech at the victory rally in his country home in Oro on November 18, but added that it was in reference to the "stranglehold of the Saraki political dynasty on Kwara politics.
"Not once did I mention the Ilorin Emirate during that speech, and I challenge anyone who has any evidence to the contrary to release such. It is instructive that the news item that was referenced by those who made the allegation never mentioned Ilorin Emirate or made any reference to the traditional institution.
"It is safe to conclude, therefore, that those who tried to inject the Ilorin Emirate into the whole issue acted out of shameful desperation.
"This is not a surprise, considering that they are yet to recover from the devastating defeat that they suffered in the by-election.
"For the record, I hold the Ilorin Emirate, and indeed all our nation's traditional institutions, in very high esteem, and will never do anything to bring them to disrepute. No candidate for any political office in Kwara State will downplay the importance of the Ilorin Emirate, which is a father to all. Those who are grappling at straws, having realized that their hegemonic hold on Kwara State is coming to an end, are the instigators of this lie from hell that the Berlin Wall of the Emirates has been broken,” Mr Muhammed stated.
The minister said the traditional chiefs "who echoed the fake news concocted by the fading political warlords of Kwara should be wary of doing anyone's hatchet jobs."
He said they should not allow themselves to be used to denigrate the referred Ilorin Emirate, "which should be absolutely non-partisan.
"The traditional chiefs must realise that it is only by standing up for truth and justice that they can most effectively play their role of maintaining the ‘ever solid wall of peace, unity, progress and stability’ in the Emirate."
"The defeat suffered by the tormentors of Kwara on 17 November, is a sign of what they should expect in the forthcoming general elections in the state. No amount of lies or other acts of desperation will save them from imminent defeat. Power flows from the people, and it is clear that the people of Kwara have totally rejected those who have appropriated the state's commonwealth to themselves to the detriment of the long-suffering people of Kwara State," Mr Mohammed stated.
The outcome of the election, which had APC candidate, Raheem Olawuyi, declared the winner, led to controversy between the APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Leaders of the PDP in the state, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, alleged that the process of the election was skewed against their party.
Mr Saraki and Mr Ahmed recently defected from the ruling APC to the PDP about four years after they defected from the PDP ahead of the 2015 general elections.
Political commentators had said the election was a test of the two major political parties' strength in Kwara ahead of the 2019 elections.