Less than a week after he made public he had been appointed spokesperson of President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election campaign, radical lawyer Festus Keyamo reportedly faced verbal assault outside a court premises over his new appointment.
The incident happened on Friday at the premises of the Anambra State Federal High Court, Awka, Anambra State.
A civic group, Conscience Nigeria, confirmed the incident in a statement, but asked Mr Keyamo to ignore his attackers.
The aggrieved individuals allegedly accused Mr Keyamo of “selling out” by accepting to support Mr Buhari’s re-election bid and serve as its campaign organisation’s official spokesperson.
Mr Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, however narrated a different version of the incident.
Speaking in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES Sunday evening, Mr Keyamo denied that he was attacked, saying a “known PDP thug” in the area committed the act. The lawyer, who spoke to our correspondent from Ghana, said he could not have been assaulted because the people are in support of the Buhari government.
“First of all, the report was wrong; nobody attacked me,” he told PREMIUM TIMES on telephone. “There was no such thing. I went to do my normal legal work in Awka; I went to defend some persons in Awka.”
“When I was coming out of court, there were large number of people and they were all congratulating me and were very happy with me. Then one known PDP thug in that area who is not a businessman, a known PDP thug, was at a distance. He was just shouting that they will not vote for Buhari, they will not vote for Buhari. And some of the members of the crowd said ‘Vote for your own choice now’.
“It was as simple as that. That was what happened and then I entered my vehicle and left. There was no such thing at all.”
Mr Keyamo said the crowd would have lynched the “PDP thug” if he had physically attacked him because they were in support of Mr Buhari’s re-election campaign.
He said, “I had kept quiet all the while, I didn’t respond. There was no attack. Attack me? How? The crowd would have lynched him if he attacked me. There was a large crowd there who was also very happy with us, saying they will vote for the president. So he (“PDP thug”) was just a lone voice.”
The human rights lawyer also explained that he is standing on the side of the Nigerian people who voted the present government by supporting the government.
“This president defeated an incumbent. This president was popularly elected by 15 million Nigerians. It was a popularly elected government, not a military government,” he said.
“Anybody who is supporting this government like us is taking side with the majority of Nigerians at least until the next elections before we know whether those 15 million people have vanished or not. Anybody who is supporting the government now is taking side with Nigerians who elected him.”
In its statement, Conscience Nigeria advised Mr Keyamo not to be distracted in his appointment as the Director, Strategic Communications for Mr Buhari’s 2019 presidential campaign.
A statement by the Executive Director of the organisation, Tosin Adeyanju, said courageous men and women are needed at this time to set a new agenda for the country and help drive the developmental agenda of the present government.
“We are more than convinced that the political environment would be interesting in the coming months as Keyamo engage the people on this task of selling the candidature of Mr President which we are convinced has all it takes to get the job done,” the group said.