The Presidency has refuted a report in The Telegraph of London by one Con Coughlin (Defence Editor) that Nigeria was using United Kingdom (UK) aid to persecute President Muhammadu Buhari’s political foes rather than to fight Boko Haram militants.
In a statement issued on Wednesday by presidential spokesman, Shehu Garba, he said the report “is not only full of factual inaccuracies, it also betrays a shocking ignorance of Nigeria and the country’s ongoing war against terrorism.”
Garba noted that the writer not only did not bother to get a reaction from the Federal Government but also failed to realise that the $2.1 billion aid he talked about was spent by Buhari”s predecessor and that some persons are currently on trial on how the funds were used.
He said: “It also does not appear to occur to Mr. Coughlin that the “political opponents” he is falsely accusing President Buhari of “targeting” and “persecuting” are actually on trial on account of how they spent the $2.1 billion in question.
“Mr. Coughlin is equally unaware of the fact that the investigating panel set up by President Buhari to probe the $2.1 billion recently published a preliminary report that confirmed that much of that money was indeed looted or mis-spent by the accused persons, and that the government has started to recover the funds,” Garba stated.
The report also accused President Buhari’s government of attempting to cover-up the abductions of 400 women and children “abducted last year by militants from the Nigerian town of Damasak.”
But Garba said “this is absolutely untrue. The Damasak abductions he’s referring to, which were recently widely reported, took place, not ‘last year’ as he says, but in late 2014, well before Mr. Buhari was elected President of Nigeria.”
He further declared that”there are several other inaccuracies and baseless statements in the piece, but Mr. Coughlin is too enamoured of his anonymous sources to realise they might be misleading him, or be as ignorant about the situation as he is.
“The suggestion that Boko Haram is going ‘from strength to strength’ is an eminently laughable one; not even Nigeria’s opposition party would make such an absurd claim.
“Since President Buhari took office, schools in Borno State, shut for more than one year under the previous government, have reopened. The same applies to the airport in Maiduguri shut down in December 2013 after a devastating Boko Haram attack on the nearby Air Force Base. Thousands of Internally- Displaced Persons (IDPs) have now started returning home.”
Garba, who listed other gains of the onslaught on Boko Haram, said that “Mr. Coughlin not only sounds like a spokesperson for the very people whose corruption and mismanagement allowed Boko Haram to bring Nigeria to its knees – and whose disastrous legacy President Buhari has spent the last one year redeeming Nigeria from – he is also guilty of failing to observe the most basic rules of responsible journalism.