The presidency has expressed its misgiving over a story published by a national daily which accused a presidential aide, Abba Kyari, of collecting a N29 million bribe for the award of a contract.
A statement by the senior special assistant on media to the president, Garba Shehu, described the report as false, saying that the Chief of Staff did not have any private meetings with the person making those allegations. According to him, what is even more surprising is the decision by the newspaper to run the cooked up lies despite obvious loopholes in the story, such as the Bureau of Public Procurement’s denial that a major source for the story was a member of their staff. Shehu noted that, wth a slew of crucial elections ahead, some politicians and their media agents appear to be working together to build pressure on the Buhari administration by wielding non-existent scandals against it. He further noted that the supply of 15 Hilux vehicles for the Presidency was an unlikely contract to have been awarded, as it did not exist anywhere in the 2016 and 2017 budgets, even as he wondered how Abba Kyari could have asked for money to award a contract that did not exist.
Shehu further pointed out that the amount allegedly given as bribe was also suspicious, as the office of the presidential aide had been known in the past to receive an imprest of N200 million and above every month, with no one expected to give account. “It was only since Abba Kyari occupied that position that things changed. In blunt terms, it is difficult to make a case of N29 million bribery against an official who spurned a monthly payment of N200 million to his office, money for which he didn’t need to account to anyone. “Once again, we wish to caution against the media’s haste to publish unverified accusations against government officials simply for the sensationalism value, without journalists doing the due diligence required of them by their profession,” he said. Shehu noted that affected newspaper was notified of the various falsehoods contained in the allegations but that it still went ahead to publish the story.
“They should be prepared to face Abba Kyari in court,” he added.