President Muhammadu Buhari refused to attend the late Chief of Army Staff Ibrahim Attahiru’s burial because he did not want to cause a traffic jam on Abuja road, says his media aide Garba Shehu.
Mr Buhari failed to attend the funeral of Mr Attahiru and six other senior military officers who died in a plane crash in Kaduna last Friday, although they were interred at National Military Cemetery, just a few kilometres away from the State House.
Mr Buhari was represented at the funeral held at the National Mosque and National Christian Centre, Abuja, by defence minister Bashir Magashi.
Many Nigerians berated and questioned the president’s absence at the funeral rites of one of his service chiefs who died while serving the country.
But defending Mr Buhari in an interview with Arise TV on Tuesday, Mr Shehu said, “I was in Europe myself on assignment, and I have not spoken to the president on this but let me give you just one example: The president is somebody who is so concerned about the safety and wellbeing of ordinary Nigerians on the streets,” he said.
“Do you know why he now prays his Jumaat in the State House and doesn’t go to the national mosque? Because he doesn’t like this idea of closing roads, security men molesting people on the road for the president to have the right of way.”
Mr Shehu added, “these are small things for many people, but they are important for President Muhammadu Buhari. So, it is a mourning situation, and the president didn’t want to take away attention from that.”