The Presidency has noted with concern the lead report in today’s edition of a national newspaper, The Daily Trust, which contained malicious, disrespectful and disparaging remarks about President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan purportedly authored by an official of the United States Embassy over two years ago.
We are completely at a loss as to what purpose the Daily Trust expects its report which is wholly based on erroneous opinion and false conjecture to serve other than the objectives of those who persist in seeing no good in the Jonathan Administration and doing everything possible to distract the President from his Agenda for National Transformation.
It is a matter of public record, as the editors of the Trust well know, that no charge of corruption was ever made or sustained against the President while he served as Governor of Bayelsa State, while his many achievements as governor of the state speak for themselves.
The report also includes an unjustifiable attempt to impugn the President’s integrity by rehashing a well-worn fictional account of alleged corruption by the First Lady which has been dismissed as arrant nonsense by the former Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.
For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has never been on any EFCC list of corrupt governors and we challenge anyone to prove otherwise.
In point of fact, it was his record of achievement and incorruptibility in public office that recommended him to the leadership of the PDP as a worthy candidate for the Vice Presidency in 2007.
Furthermore, the cable which purports to be the source of the story is unverified. Moreover, even the alleged cable itself cites as its source “reports” and yet the newspaper went ahead to report an alleged incident which was not in the purported cable and involved the seizure of large sums of money from the President’s wife while he was governor.
The incident described above never happened and is at best a figment of the reporter’s imagination. Let me state categorically that at no time was $13.5 million or any other sum seized from Dame Patience Jonathan at the Lagos airport or any other airport.
The former Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, who was in office at the time President Jonathan was a governor stated categorically that the allegations were just lies inserted into the media for political purposes.
Malam Ribadu’s precise statement on this issue made on the 13th of October, 2010 was as follows: “We investigated it and there was nothing connected with Mrs. Jonathan. Even as at that time those who were desperately looking to make a political mile out of every opportunity decided to use that to link it with them simply because they wanted to kick them out of office at that time”.
Finally, let me state that President Jonathan remains committed to Press freedom and freedom of speech which is why he signed the Freedom of Information Bill into law. With the passage of this bill into law, the expectation of the President is that such a law could be utilized by the Press to thoroughly investigate allegations before they are released into the public arena as truth.
The FOI law allows reporters to request for records from the EFCC which when perused would establish the truth about any matter that has been before the EFCC. With the FOI law, there is no longer any excuse for speculative journalism beyond laziness.
Reuben Abati, Ph.D
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
6 September 2011