By Ikechukwu Eze
For the umpteenth time, we are again constrained to pronounce the innocence of former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in view of an orchestrated but futile attempt to link him to an allegation of bribery over the controversial Malabu deal.
This reiteration wouldn’t have been necessary in the light of the recent voluntary recant by former Russian diplomat, Ednan Agaev, who once accused the former president of receiving bribes but reversed himself last month, declaring that the initial statement in which he sought to indict the former President was made under duress. It will be recalled that Mr, Agaev who helped negotiate the transfer of the OPL 245 oil block to Shell and Eni had told an Italian court last month that he had no evidence against Dr. Jonathan on the bribery allegation. However, despite the clarity of his assertion, a section of the local media has continued to push a false narrative to the effect that the former President might still be a person of interest in the matter, notwithstanding the fact that he has never been linked or indicted, since the scandal broke many years ago.
On Friday night, our attention was drawn to a publication in one of the online news sources where the name of the former President was loosely mentioned in a story alleging that some people may have hidden documents showing fraudulent payments of the Malabu bribery claim.
We proclaim without mincing words that this report is rather misleading as there was no supporting statement in the story to bear out its disingenuous headline which was obviously intentioned to portray the former President in bad light.
It is also instructive that the writer of the story, after labouring vainly to cast aspersions on the person of the former President, later admitted that Jonathan “is not under any probe on the matter.”
Although we had severally debunked this same concocted bribery claim in the past, we will continue to restate the following facts:
* Former President Jonathan has never been linked, indicted or charged for collecting any monies as kickbacks or bribes from ENI by the Italian authorities or any other law enforcement body the world over.
* We said before and will continue to repeat that the documents relating to the transactions and decisions of the Federal Government on the Malabo issue, during the Jonathan administration, are in the relevant Government offices, where they are accessible.
* We will continue to point out that all the actions taken by the Jonathan administration in relation to activities in the oil industry were legally conducted by relevant Nigerian Government officials and were carried out in the best interest of the country.
* We will also continue to maintain that there is a calculated design to keep the false claim against the former President alive in the public space, despite the contrary submission of the Russian agent who recently confessed to an Italian court that he was forced to make the initial indicting allegation. We strongly believe that this continuing media witch-hunt from a section of the media is not only mischievous but diversionary, and, as such it will continue to fail.
-Ikechukwu Eze is the Media aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan