Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has said that the desire by Sahara Reporters and its publisher, Omoyele Sowore, to fabricate lies and and create phantom information designed to libel him is so legendary and has turned to an obsession.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki said it is from that prism that he viewed recent stories by Sowore accusing him of collecting and laundering funds related to the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) from the so-called Paris Club Fund refund.
“Sowore as usual is merely creating fiction and quoting faceless, non-existent sources in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) without providing any document or stating any fact to support his claim. This is sheer blackmail and character assassination.
“This time he was talking of the Senate President “grabbing N3.5 billion” from the NGF fund. We challenge Sowore and his sponsors to produce evidence of payment of N3.5 billion to Saraki within the next 24 hours.
“Sowore has consistently engaged in this game of defaming Saraki since the election of the Senate President on June 9, 2015 believing that he and his sponsors will through lies, mischief and libellous publications bring Saraki down in a matter of days.
“We recall how at the commencement of the case on Asset Declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, he was reeling out lies which the proceedings in the CCT have since proved to be untrue. As at yesterday, the key Prosecution Witness from the Code Of Conduct Bureau has admitted that in September 2015 when they filed the case against Saraki, there was no evidence against him.
“We recall that this same Sowore had alleged that Saraki bribed a former Chief Justice of Nigeria to influence the CCT case. This has since proved to be a lie that cannot be supported by any fact. Later, he shifted his bribery allegation to the Director of Public Prosecution in the Federal Ministry of Justice who he claimed was induced to withdraw the CCT case. This has since been proved to be another bare-faced lie. He later alleged that the Senate President had influenced the verdict of a judgement at the Court of Appeal which was then arrested. That was another fabrication not supported by any fact. Other areas where he had concocted lies against Saraki was the allegation that the Senate President was involved in the Sambo Dasuki fund saga. That was another lie. Again, when there was a robbery incident involving money owned by a Bureau de Change, Sahara Reporters claimed Saraki owned the money. This has been proved to be a big lie. Just as this claim of N3.5bn payment by NGF has not been supported by any fact.
“It is only in Nigeria that one person will be flagrantly and irresponsibly violating other people’s right without care and get away with it while claiming to be practicing journalism. Journalism is about truth, facts, objectivity founded on strong ethics and responsible behaviour. All these are observed in the breach by Sowore and his Organisation. It is clear that what Sowore practiced is not journalism but outright blackmail. He goes after those not ready to pay his price. That is why he has continued to live beyond his legitimate means. We are set to expose his game and let people see him for what he is.
“It should be known that there is nothing that depicts corruption more than the circulation of falsehood and engaging in the game of blackmail. Yet, this character claims to fight corruption and acting on behalf of the public while in actual fact he is profiting from this game of deception, peddling wrong information and false news.
“It is our plan to employ all lawful means to protect the integrity and reputation of Dr. Saraki, including exposing the antics of this man who pretend to be acting in public interest.
“We therefore call on all members of the public to ignore and disregard the claims contained in Sahara Reporters stories concerning Saraki and the N 3.5 billion NGF Paris Club fund. The Senate President has absolutely nothing to do with any transfer or repayment of money by the NGF. Like their past reports, a few of which was chronicled above, the fabrications by Sahara Reporters were just figment of the imagination of Sowore and his sponsors. We restate our challenge to him to produce within 24 hours evidence of payment to the Senate President by the NGF”, Saraki stated.
Special Adviser (Media and Publicity)