The Presidency has frowned at what it described as improbable and outlandish publication by a national daily on Saturday alleging corruption against the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari.
The publication alleged that Kyari collected N29 million bribe from a contractor.
Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, condemned the publication in a statement in Abuja on Saturday.
Shehu explained that Kyari did not have any private meetings with the person making those allegations.
The statement read: “Presidency takes strong offence to the improbable and outlandish publication by Punch Newspaper today (Saturday – Sept. 8) in a dig at presidential aide Abba Kyari who was alleged to have collected a 29 million naira bribe for the awarding 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.
“What is even more surprising is the decision by the newspaper to lie 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.
“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,’’ he said.
The presidential spokesman also 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.
“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?,’’ he said.
Shehu added 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 monthly Imprest of N200 million and above 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,’’ he said.
He therefore cautioned against the media’s haste to publish unverified accusations against government officials simply for the sensationalism value without doing the due diligence required of them by their profession.
The presidential spokesman observed that the newspaper 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 concluded.