Monday, March 28, 2011

President Jonathan Escapes Fire incident in a proposed meeting with the JNI

A fire incident inside the main hall of the secretariat of the Jama’atul Nasr Islam venue of the meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and Islamic leaders in Kaduna on Sunday caused panic among Northern religious and traditional rulers awaiting the arrival of the president.

At about 3.03pm, some JNI leaders and members of the police band scampered out of the hall carrying their musical instruments while the JNI Secretary General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar, dashed to the main entrance shouting “fire in the hall! Call
the fire service.”

The fire alarm caused pandemonium as the traditional rulers and security agents inside the hall ran to avoid being trapped.

The bodyguards of the various emirs, popularly called Dogari, who had earlier been restricted from entering the hall with their principal, on hearing the fire alarm forced their way through the barrier formed by security agents at the entrance to the hall.

A source said that the Dogaris made frantic moves to rescue the traditional rulers through the backdoor before the fire was eventually put out.

The JNI secretary-general however later attributed the fire incident to an electrical fault due to a power surge from the generating set, which was being used at the time to forestall sudden outage during the meeting with the president.

Northern traditional rulers already seated in the hall when the fire incident occurred included the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, the Emir of Zazzau, Dr. Shehu Idris and the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Dr. Lateef Adegbite.

The fire was eventually put out by 3.25pm and the members of the police band who had earlier fled the hall returned and took their position.

The president said he was at the JNI secretariat to solicit the cooperation of the Islamic religious and traditional leaders and request for their support in the April general elections.

Jonathan, who apologised to the Islamic leaders for not meeting them first before proceeding on his nationwide campaign tour, stated that Nigeria had become the cynosure of all eyes across the world because of the forthcoming poll.”

He said it had therefore become imperative that Nigeria conducted free and fair elections next month, warning that if the elections failed, the country would lose as investors would avoid the country.

“Religious leaders play a key role in the corporate existence of the nation. We listen more to religious leaders than political leaders. All of us believe in your leadership.

“Some members of the political class may be very desperate to win the elections by all means. They will create a lot of problems and the only people who can counsel us are religious leaders and our traditional rulers.

“He condemned the recent burning of about 500 vehicles and a secondary school in Akwa Ibom State, saying that the incident had gone beyond the bounds of politics.

“The Sultan also stated that the Muslim leaders were concerned about post-election stability in the country.”

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