President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday denied the allegation that the former governor of Borno state, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, accused of being the mastermind of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency in the country, was in his delegation I’m his recent trip to Ndjamena, Chad capital.
The President, in a release signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, yesterday said the clarification has become important even though the former Borno governor had already given a lie to the insinuation.
The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) had alleged that Sheriff, who was accused of being one of the sponsors of Boko Haram insurgents by the Australian negotiator, Stephen Davis, was in the official delegation that accompanied Jonathan to Ndjamena.
The President described the charge as totally spurious and misleading stressing that those on his entourage had earlier been made public in the spirit of his a vouched openness and transparency.
He stated: “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.”
Apart from the above, Jonathan maintained that those other members of the entourage not enumerated were his aides including security personnels and journalists.
He continued: “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.”
Abati clarified that Sheriff was not in Chad at Jonathan’s instance and did not officially participate in any of the President’s discussions with President Idriss Deby or his other engagements in Ndjamena.
He stated: “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”, the statement concluded.