Ex-Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff has said he knows nothing about the Russian cargo plane detained by the Nigerian Airway Authority in Kano weekend.
Sheriff said in a statement he gave to journalists in Maiduguri, Borno capital that attempts to link him with the detained cargo was hatched by his political foes.
Excerpt from the statement reads: “My attention was drawn to a publication by the Premium Times on-line with a caption, “Ex-Borno Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, In Secret Visit To Arms-laden Chad-bound Plane Detained In Nigeria”.
“I read the report with consternation, much as I felt scandalised to be linked again to an issue I absolutely knew nothing about. For me, the publication has a ring of a conspiracy meant to dragging my name in the mud by some cowardly, malicious and unschooled political rivals who, in their little minds, love to engage ill-trained media persons to peddle lies against me
“I hereby use this means to say to my adversaries anywhere they may be that their evil motives to soil may name and hard earned reputation will not stand. Those who are drawn into the conspiracy to hack me down under any guise will always fail as much I am certain that they will continue to get soaked in the whirlpool of self-delusion and hopelessness.
“Let me declare with strong emphasis that the report in the Premium Times which oozes strong elements of libel is utterly untrue, illogical, malicious and very distasteful. The authors, if anything, only succeeded in exposing their ignorance, lack of integrity and gross misconduct rooted in their feeble grab of the basic tenets of journalism which they were taught to uphold.
“I had nothing whatsoever to do with the grounded foreign Aircraft in Kano, a reason the Premium Times report fell flat in deceit and misinformation.
“At the risk of exposing my private programme and movement last week, I like to say, all the same, that I left Abuja for Katsina last Thursday for the wedding ceremony of Muhammed, son of my friend Lamai Hassan who died 20 years ago. After the wedding, I needed to return to Abuja on Saturday with other friends through the Kano International Airport, since there was no direct flight from Katsina. The alibi I had was a meeting that I attended at the Transcorp Hotel, Abuja at 9.00pm on Saturday; whereas the report quoted an unreal source that I visited the Kano International Airport at 10.00pm same day!. What a report! What incongruity! What a blatant lie!
“Indeed, I dare anyone who said he saw me at the Airport having anything to do with the detained Aircraft to produce evidence, much as I will be instructing my legal team to take steps towards defending my name on this issue.
“I found it most interesting that the same Premium Times which insinuated that I visited the Kano International Airport to lobby for the release of the Aircraft, within a short spate of time, reported that Russia had claimed ownership, while the cargo was hired by France for delivery of military equipment in the Central African Republic. I wonder what business I had with either Russia or France to be negotiating the release of the detained Aircraft, even at an odd time suggested by Premium Times. Can someone just pay attention to the contradictions in the two reports published by Premium Times which sought to put me on the spot, needlessly?
“It is against this background that I like to advise our brothers and sisters in the pen profession to refrain from giving journalism a bad image in Nigeria. The manner Journalism is practiced in civilized climes makes the profession to earn respect with a high rating as the Fourth Estate of the Realm. We need to take a cue from this if we are to use the media to help ensure the growth and development of Nigeria.
“It amounts to making Journalism over-reach itself as a profession when practitioners willfully submit themselves to the agenda of Pull Him Down, Character assassination, bearing of false witness and peddling of falsehood in general.
“To round up, I will not be tired of dismissing every report linking me with terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria. On this note, I reiterate that as a Nigerian who had served two tenures in the Senate and two terms as a governor of Borno State, I have not, and I will never have anything to do with a group or individuals who like to pull down Nigeria or any part of it, while I say categorically again that I have nothing to do with terrorists and insurgents in any part of Nigeria, as my conscience can bear me witness.”
Sheriff was two terms governor of Borno between 2003 and 2011 on the platform of defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) which later dissolved into coalition of opposition under the aegis of All Progressive Congress (APC). He later defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spurring coalition with his political godson, Gov Kashim Shettima with aides of the latter, accusing him of link with Boko Haram.