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President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday categorized former president Olusegun Obasanjo among those he called “spineless cowards” driven by “sheer greed and indecency”, in an outburst over allegations he has authorized the training of a killer squad ahead of the 2015 elections.

The president said those peddling the allegation that snipers are being trained by his government should better substantiate the claim or “shut up forever.”

“President Jonathan is running a people’s government. He does not need any snipers. His legitimacy comes from the people,” the president’s spokesperson, Reuben Abati, said in a statement late Sunday. “Those who are alleging the existence of snipers should step forward and provide the evidence or shut up forever and go down in history as spineless cowards, driven by sheer greed and indecency.”

The allegation first came to light in an 18-page letter by Mr. Obasanjo to the president.

On Sunday, the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, citing Mr. Obasanjo’s letter, told the president in a statement it was unbothered by any scale of ruthlessness of his government against dissent, and vowed a “stiff resistance” henceforth against acts of impunity by the Jonathan administration.

The president rebuked the APC’s allegation as a “false copy-cat” that clearly shows that the party was in “cahoots with other elements who are bent on discrediting his administration and inciting the public against it.

Though coming as a response to APC’s earlier statement, the president’s angry reply also appeared a subtle response to Mr. Obasanjo’s scorching letter, in which he accused the president of corruption, ineptitude and impunity.

Sunday’s response would be the presidency’s second since PREMIUM TIMES published Mr. Obasanjo’s letter Wednesday.

Also, the remarks would be the presidency’s first direct reply to any of the numerous issues raised by Mr. Obasanjo in the 18-page letter.

Besides the purported training of snipers, the former president also accused Mr. Jonathan of currently keeping over 1,000 people on his political watch list, and secretly acquiring weapons, for political purposes, for a killer squad, comparable to the Abacha-era hit squad.

Mr. Obasanjo said the “snipers” were being trained at the same place the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, trained his own killer squad.

“Allegation of keeping over 1000 people on political watch list rather than criminal or security watch list and training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes like Abacha and training them where Abacha trained his own killers, if it is true, it cannot augur well for the initiator, the government and the people of Nigeria,” Mr. Obasanjo said in the letter dated December 2.

Mr. Obasanjo said the president would always remember that he was elected to maintain security for all Nigerians and protect them, warning that no one should prepare to kill or maim them (Nigerians) for personal or political ambition or interest of anyone.

Quoting a Yoruba adage that says: “The man with whose head coconut is broken may not live to savour the taste of the succulent fruit,” Mr. Obasanjo said those who advised him (Jonathan) to go hard on those opposed to him were his worst enemies.

He added, “Democratic politics admits and is permissible of supporters and opponents. When the consequences come, those who have wrongly advised you will not be there to help carry the can. Egypt must teach some lesson.”