The Presidency has threatened legal action against Punch Nigeria Limited over reports linking Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, to a contract scam.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday.
One Bako Kyari, who says he is the presidential aide’s nephew, had said during a popular radio programme, Berekete Family, on Human Rights Radio 101.1FM in Abuja, that Kyari and Sani Ado, whom he claimed worked with the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), allegedly collected N29.9m from him in order to facilitate the award of a contract.
“We wish to state with full authority that the allegation is wrong and the Chief of Staff did not have any private meetings with the person making those allegations,” Shehu’s statement said.
The presidential spokesman said there were 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.
“With 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.
“We equally note 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.
“Checking the appropriation for 2016 and 2017, that request is not even there. How could Abba Kyari have asked for money to award a contract that did not exist anywhere at all?
“In addition to that, the amount allegedly given in bribe was also suspicious, as the office of the presidential aide had been known in the past to receive imprest of 200 million naira 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.
“The Punch was notified of the various falsehoods contained in the allegations but still went ahead to publish the weak accusations. They should be prepared to face Abba Kyari in court,” Shehu said.