NewsRescue-The President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has in recent days made a series of most absurd denials.
First he denied a chief terror negotiator, Dr. Stephen Davis who his government hired to negotiate with Boko Haram terrorists. This denial was made after the Australian negotiator named former army chief, Azubuike Ihejirika and former Governor of Borno, Ali Modu Sheriff as Boko Haram sponsors.
The second major denial was of his campaign hashtag, #BringBackGoodluck2015 which top presidential aide, Doyin Okupe has been exposed to have formulated. The latest denial of the former Governor and accused terror sponsor comes after much criticism of their joint trip to Chad on what has been revealed to be urgent personal business prompted by the Davis revelations. The President has been exposed to have traveled with Sheriff to secure and restore investor confidence, as these power men own stock in oil and other ventures in Chad which came under threat subsequent to Davis’ explosive revelations of Sheriff’s involvement in terror.
SaharaR-President Goodluck Jonathan, who has provoked a barrage of criticism for his chumminess with former Governor Modu Sheriff of Borno State, today sought to limit the political damage of fraternizing with the controversial former governor during a recent trip to Ndjamena, the capital of Chad.
A statement signed by presidential aide, Reuben Abati, accused the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as “bigoted critics of the Jonathan Administration” of trying to create the impression that Mr. Sheriff was part of the president’s official delegation that went with Mr. Jonathan to Ndjamena. Mr. Abati also vowed that the president would not interfere with the investigation of the former governor as a possible sponsor of a terrorist group whose members have launched incessant violent attacks in many parts of Nigeria’s northeast and beyond.
Nigerians and other watchers of Nigeria took to social media over the last two days to express outrage that President Jonathan allowed the former governor to accompany him at a so-called security meeting in Chad. Mr. Sheriff has been under the cloud since an Australian hostage negotiator, Stephen Davis, named him as one of the top financiers of Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgent group that killed more than 2000 Nigerian civilians in the first half of 2014.
Nigeria’s intelligence agency, the Department of State Security (DSS), had announced a week ago that they were investigating Mr. Sheriff’s connection with the terrorist group. One of Nigeria’s most well known lawyers, Femi Falana, also accused Mr. Sheriff of including a representative of Boko Haram in his cabinetduring his governorship tenure.
In the midst of the swirling controversy around the former governor, he surfaced inChad during President Jonathan’s visit there to discuss security matters.
Mr. Abati’s statement attempted to play down Mr. Sheriff’s role in Chad, declaring that the former governor merely greeted the president at the airport. However, there are photos of Mr. Sheriff sitting down at a meeting between President Jonathan and Chadian leader Idriss Deby. Besides, sources close to the Presidency confirmed toSaharaReporters that Mr. Sheriff indeed took part in the security meeting in Chad.
SaharaReporters published the photo of Mr. Jonathan warmly shaking the hands of the shady former governor. Incidentally, the photo had been taken and distributed by the president’s office, indicating a great measure of pride.
As outrage spread, Mr. Sheriff declared that he happened to be in Ndjamena during the president’s visit, claiming to own a home in the Chadian capital.
Mr. Abati’s statement read: “We have noted with surprise, the unnecessary hue and cry raised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other bigoted critics of the Jonathan Administration over the claim that the President is ‘hobnobbing’ with the former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff who was recently accused by the Australian, Stephen Davis of being one of the chief sponsors of the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
“The totally erroneous basis for that charge was the spurious claim that Senator Sheriff accompanied President Jonathan on his recent trip to Ndjamena as a member of his entourage.
“Although Senator Sheriff himself has already given the lie to that claim through his Media Adviser, the Presidency wishes to affirm, for the purpose of emphasis, that the former Borno State governor was not on President Jonathan’s delegation to Chad.
“In keeping with President Jonathan’s commitment to transparency and openness in the conduct of government business, names of the key members of his delegation were announced a day before his trip to Ndjamena. They included the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed and the Director-General of National Space Research and Development Agency, Prof. Seidu Mohammed.
“As can be easily verified from the complete list of members of the Presidential entourage to Chad which was also circulated on Sunday and never changed, Senator Sheriff’s name was not on it. The only other persons on the list were the President’s aides, security personnel and journalists.
“The APC and others who rushed to condemn President Jonathan for a non-existent indiscretion would have found, if they took the least trouble to double-check, that there was absolutely no factual basis for their accusation.
“Those who associate with Senator Sheriff know that he has longstanding interests in Chad and often spends a lot of his time there. He happened to be in Ndjamena at the time of President Jonathan’s visit and joined other Nigerian residents of the Chadian capital in coming to the airport to welcome their President.
“That was the full extent of his participation in the visit and it was also at Ndjamena Airport that the pictures which formed the basis of the bogus allegation of President Jonathan hobnobbing with an ‘accused sponsor of terrorism’ were taken.
“The former Governor’s presence in Chad was certainly not at President Jonathan’s instance and he did not participate in any of the President’s discussions with President Idriss Deby or his other engagements in Ndjamena.
“President Jonathan is fully aware of the allegation made against Senator Sheriff by Stephen Davis. That allegation is already being investigated by the security agencies who will make their findings known to the public in due course.
“The President assures all Nigerians that he has not willfully taken any action that could prejudice the outcome of that ongoing inquiry.
“He seizes this opportunity to reassure the nation once again of his total commitment to doing all within his powers to bring all identified and verified sponsors of terrorism to justice, and ending the menace of violent extremism in the country.”