The Presidency on Saturday broke silence over allegations of contract scam leveled against Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Kyari said he would take legal action against his accuser and the Punch neewspaper.
The alleged scam was aired on Berekete Family Radio 101.1FM, Abuja, alleging that
Appearing on a Brekete Family Radio 101.1FM, Abuja, one Bako Kyari, who identified himself as a nephew to the chief of staff, said Mr Kyari and one Sani Ado, whom he claimed worked with the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, collected N29.9 million from him in order to facilitate the award of a contract.
Mr Bako said he had written a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, but the commission refused to act on it, just as he claimed Mr Kyari ordered for his arrest and detention by the SSS for two weeks.
But in an email sent to TheCable, Mr Kyari vowed to take legal action against his accuser, saying there was no iota of truth in his claims.
“I have instructed my lawyers to take legal action against all those who have peddled this falsehood.
“He also said no amount of mud “will stick or stain my integrity.
“There is no iota of truth whatsoever even in dreamland in this malicious story. We cannot allow reasoned and reasonable debate to be hijacked by the frenzied fantasies of a cynical and dishonest minority.
“A lie becomes no less of a lie simply by repetition.
“I will continue to ensure that business-as-usual is unsustainable, ask questions and question answers – in the interest of our country, above any other consideration,” he said in the email.
In a statement by Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu, the presidency reacted to the Punch newspaper, which interviewed Mr Bako and ran the story.
“The Presidency takes strong offence to the improbable and outlandish publication by Punch Newspaper today (Saturday) 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 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. 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,” Mr Shehu said.