Former president of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan has threatened to institute legal action against some media outlets for alleging that the Federal Government is probing him in connection with pipeline vandalization in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
The Otuoke, Bayelsa State-born politician released a press statement via his official website today, saying:
Our attention has been drawn to two stories entitled ‘Report links Jonathan to Niger Delta Avengers’ and ‘FG probes Jonathan over N/Delta bombings’ published in both the Nation and Daily Trust newspapers, respectively, of Thursday 18 August, 2016, with the claim that some intelligence reports had linked Jonathan to the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta.
We obviously would have ignored the allegation, having responded recently to the exact same fabrication peddled by a shady militant group, but for the new dimension of bringing in the authorities, while hiding under the often-abused journalism latitude of quoting nebulous ‘sources.’
Firstly, we note that there were similarities in the two stories published the same day by the two newspapers, that are too striking to pass the test of the normal newsroom process of diligent reporting and independent investigation.
We are convinced that such clear coincidences are only permissible in situations where general statements are issued, but not on matters of intelligence/security reports which do not fly into newsrooms as press releases.
We are also concerned that the stories did not differ in content and substance from the trite allegations earlier made by the so-called Reformed Niger Delta Avengers over the same lies of linking Jonathan to the militants.
For instance, we are amazed that a newspaper would be quick to report that “the intelligence gathering was said to be a confirmation of a similar claim by the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta(MEND)”, even without subjecting such frivolity to any ethical interrogation.
From what we know about intelligence gathering, there is no responsible Government agency that would rush, as claimed in the newspaper stories, to adopt the accusations of a questionable rebellious organization as its own findings, without applying the professional processes of rigor and due diligence.
It is sad that the two publications wore the cloak of the deceit from the same misguided characters that are hell-bent on pulling down the former President, despite his clear record of diligent service to his country and long-standing commitment to the good of society.
There is no doubt that there exist such people who may have scores to settle with the former President but are now feeling frustrated by the fact that his national and international profile has continued to rise, despite their recourse to endless muck-raking character assassination. Such people will stop at nothing to continue to throw obstacles, albeit futilely, on his path.
We are aware that the same people approached other well-meaning newspapers with the same false information, but they were wise to turn it down on account of its absurdity.
Our media houses should then be careful not to make the country a laughing stock by being hoodwinked into passing off the perverted voices of irritant groups as that of our well respected official and security authorities.
Apart from toying with the serious issue of libel, those newspapers lending themselves to be so cheaply used by miscreants, are also doing gross disservice to our collective good and the image of the country.
Office of former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan | 18th August, 2016