President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday denied the allegation that he travelled to Chad with former Borno State Governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
The ex-governor was mentioned by an Australian negotiator as one of the sponsors of the Boko Haram sect. He is being investigated by the SSS to ascertain the true position.
Sheriff was photographed with President Jonathan when he held talks with the Chadian President, Idriss Deby, in N’Djamena on Tuesday.
But reacting to the uproar over the presence of Sheriff in Chad alongside President Jonathan, who held talks with his Chadian counterpart on strengthening ties in the fight against Boko Haram, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Dr. Reuben Abati, said that the ex-governor was not part of the president’s delegation to Chad.
He said, “We have noted with surprise, the unnecessary hue and cry raised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other bigoted critics of the Jonathan administration over the claim that the President is “hobnobbing” with the former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, who was recently accused by the Australian, Stephen Davis of being one of the chief sponsors of the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
“The totally erroneous basis for that charge was the spurious claim that Senator Sheriff accompanied President Jonathan on his recent trip to N’Djamena as a member of his entourage.
“Although Senator Sheriff himself has already given the lie to that claim through his Media Adviser, the Presidency wishes to affirm, for the purpose of emphasis, that the former Borno State governor was not on President Jonathan’s delegation to Chad”.
The presidential spokesman continued: “In keeping with President Jonathan’s commitment to transparency and openness in the conduct of government business, names of the key members of his delegation were announced a day before his trip to N’Djamena.
“They included the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed and the Director-General of National Space Research and Development Agency, Prof. Seidu Mohammed.
“As can be easily verified from the complete list of members of the Presidential entourage to Chad which was also circulated on Sunday and never changed, Senator Sheriff’s name was not on it. The only other persons on the list were the President’s aides, security personnel and journalists.
“The APC and others who rushed to condemn President Jonathan for a non-existent indiscretion would have found, if they took the least trouble to double-check, that there was absolutely no factual basis for their accusation.
“Those who associate with Senator Sheriff know that he has longstanding interests in Chad and often spends a lot of his time there”.
According to Abati, Sheriff happened to be in N’Djamena at the time of President Jonathan’s visit and joined other Nigerian residents of the Chadian capital in coming to the airport to welcome their President.