by Isi Esene
The presidency is demanding an apology over media reports that former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida turned down President Goodluck Jonathan’s request to break the Ramadan fast at his home in Minna, Niger state.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, refuted this claim saying there was no such request therefore the issue of being turned down does not arise.
He subsequently demanded a retraction and an apology from the newspaper which the story emanated.
The statement read: “The mischievous lead report in the daily today (yesterday) that President Goodluck Jonathan sought to visit former President Ibrahim Babangida in Minna to show him ‘the spirit of comradeship’ during Ramadan is completely untrue.
“Although President Jonathan participates in the Ramadan fast every year in solidarity with Nigerians of the Islamic faith, he has never as Vice President or President visited the residence of any individual to break his fast.
“Rather, it has been the President’s custom to regularly invite Muslims from all strata of society to break their fast with him at the Presidential Villa, during the month of Ramadan.
“In keeping with that established practice, President Jonathan has been busy hosting Muslims, most evenings of the current Ramadan season.
“As much as he respects and holds Babangida in high regard, President Jonathan has never indicated any interest in visiting him at Minna during the current Ramadan.
“Therefore, there could not have been any ‘turning down’ of a visit by President Jonathan by the former president.
“We condemn the decision of the editors of the daily to publish such arrant falsehood in spite of our vigorous rebuttal as a further manifestation of a continuing effort to sow the seeds of discord in the polity.
“Although the newspaper cites a phantom ‘reliable presidency source’ and ‘a source close to the former president’ to buttress its fictitious report, the editors of the daily know fully well that they can never prove the veracity of the false claim that President Jonathan either offered to break fast with Babangida in Minna or was turned down by the former president.
“We, therefore, demand a full retraction of the totally false report, which demeans the office of the President and an apology by the newspaper.”