The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Hassan Matthew Kukah, yesterday, refused to offer reasons why he was seen in photographs with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his former deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, shortly after the duo’s reconciliatory meeting, after which Obasanjo endorsed Atiku for next year’s presidential election.
In an interaction with The Guardian during the Interfaith Conference in Abuja, Kukah, when asked if he was endorsing Atiku for the election, having been present and appearing in photos during Obasanjo’s meeting with Atiku and other Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftains, where the former endorsed the latter, retorted: “Have you ever heard of a priest endorsing any candidate? Every Nigerian has the right to contest election.”
Reminded that it was trending on the social media, he said: “I am not the editor of the social media.”
On why he accompanied Atiku to Otta for the meeting, he asked: “Did you see me accompany Atiku?”
He explained: “…No, I was in Otta, you are here now, is it the same as saying you followed me? Did you come here with me? The fact that we are in the same location doesn’t mean we came together.”
When asked how he got to take photographs with them, Kukah retorted: “Did you see me with a photographer? Ask the photographer, not me.”
Reminded that Nigerians, judging by the trending group photograph, in which he appeared with the duo after the meeting, believe he might have gone there to reconcile Atiku with his former boss, Kukah said: “You are now doing hypothesis.
I am not doing hypothesis, ask me a critical question, maybe be I will answer. Ask them, you can confirm from Atiku’s office. You know they are politicians, they can tell you.
“Why not go to his office and cross-check. They were the actors, not me. Am I a politician?”
Still further prodded on what he was doing at Obasanjo’s residence at the time Atiku and his team visited and he took photographs with them, Kukah stated: “Don’t I have freedom of movement again or must I give an account of what I have gone to do? Did I borrow money from anybody for transport?
Was it a coincidence? The Guardian queried and he replied: “Was what a coincidence? …Are we not in the same town now? Is it a coincidence? I say go to their office and ask them.”
When told that The Guardian would prefer to hear from him, the cleric asked: “Why? Do I live in Otta? Go and ask the man in Otta. Go and ask them who came to their place. Was I the only person you saw there?
He also gave curt answers to further questions:
But being a religious figure (cuts in): “There is a church inside the compound.”
Did you go there to conduct a church service?
“I am just telling you, you said I am religious, there is a church inside the Presidential Library.”
So, what was the purpose of your visit to Otta and Obasanjo’s residence?
“So, there is no freedom of movement again? As I said, go and ask them, they are the ones you should ask and you will have a good story?”