President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday denied a claim by Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State that he reported a serving minister who allegedly collected a $250m bribe from an oil company without the President acting on the information.
A newspaper (not Saturday PUNCH) had on Friday quoted the governor, who is one of the seven aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party governors, as making the claim in an interview with an Abuja-based radio station on Thursday.
Lamido was quoted as saying: “Do you know that recently a top minister received a $250 million (about 42.25 billion) bribe for himself… he (the minister) is in the cabinet; he is in this current regime; he knows and I know, and I told the President.”
But Jonathan, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, described the governor’s claim as “grossly irresponsible, false and mischievous.”
He said no such communication took place between him and the governor.
He said the governor’s “patently bogus allegation” was a callous attempt to impugn his (the President’s) integrity and cast aspersion on his administration’s anti-corruption war.
Jonathan added that Lamido descended into “the unscrupulous, reckless and thoughtless peddling of arrant falsehood” in order to score cheap political points for personal and sectional political gains.
He added that if the governor has credible information about a minister receiving the said amount as bribe as he claimed, he should publicly name the minister involved and provide evidence to support his allegation.
In the event that he is unable to do so, the President said Lamido should be prepared to offer an unreserved apology to him and Nigerians for what he called “his unwarranted and unjust effort to denigrate, disparage and malign the President and the Federal Government.”
The President said while his administration would continue to make corrupt public officials answerable for their actions, he would not succumb to harassment and blackmail by self-seeking politicians jostling for personal advantage.
The statement read, “We have noted with much regret, the grossly irresponsible, false and mischievous claim by the Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido that President Goodluck Jonathan has refused to act on information that a serving minister recently collected a bribe of $250 million from an oil company.
“The Presidency views the patently bogus allegation reportedly made by the Governor in a radio interview yesterday as an unacceptable and callous attempt to unjustly impugn the integrity of President Jonathan and cast aspersions on the seriousness of his Administration’s efforts to curb corruption.
“The allegation and the claim by Alhaji Lamido that he informed President Jonathan of the acceptance of the huge bribe by an unnamed minister is absolutely without any foundation in fact or reality because no such communication has ever taken place between them.
“We abhor Governor Lamido’s descent to the unscrupulous, reckless and thoughtless peddling of arrant falsehood in a puerile effort to score cheap political points against President Jonathan for personal and sectional political gains.
“If, as he claims, Alhaji Lamido has credible information about a minister receiving the said amount as bribe, he should publicly name the minister involved without delay and provide evidence to support his allegation.
“In the event that he is unable to do so, he should be prepared to offer an unreserved apology to the President and Nigerians for his unwarranted and unjust effort to denigrate, disparage and malign the President and the Federal Government.
“While the Jonathan Presidency will continue to make corrupt public officials answerable for their actions, it will not succumb to harassment and blackmail by self-seeking politicians jostling for personal advantage.”