How presidency pronounced Gov. Danbaba Suntai dead, misleading Nigerians

The tweet Mr. Omokri hurriedly deleted...Click to read click clearly.
The tweet Mr. Omokri hurriedly deleted...Click to read click clearly.

A misleading tweet by an official of the Nigerian Presidency helped fueled nationwide speculation Thursday that Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba died in a plane crash.

Anxiety had mounted over the fate of the occupants of the ill-fated plane after the story broke that six passengers and crew, including Mr. Suntai, were aboard the small jetliner  which crashed Thursday evening close to the NNPC depot in Yola.

But rather  than help defuse the tension over the crash, which came less than five months after a Lagos-bound Dana-operated aircraft  from Abuja crashed into a two-storey building in Lagos, killing all 153 passengers, and 10 others on the ground, the presidency added to the confusion, pronouncing the governor dead without getting confirmation from officials on ground in Yola, the Adamawa State capital.

“May the soul of the late departed Governor, Danbaba Suntai, of Taraba State rest in peace and may God grant the state peace this trying time,” the Special Assistant to the President on New Media, Reno Omokri, said via his twitter handle, @renoomokri.

But after this newspaper reported claims by witnesses and Taraba State officials that the governor survived the crash and was in hospital, Mr. Omokri hurriedly deleted his misleading tweet. When we checked his twitter handle at 9.25 p.m., the tweet was no longer there.

He did not offer any apology or explanation.

Mr. Omokri had in the past used his handle to convey presidential statements and information to Nigerians, and many were quick to believe the information he circulated.

“Once I saw Reno condoling Taraba and the family of the governor, every doubt I had about the purported death of the governor evaporated,” a state House correspondent told PREMIUM TIMES this morning. “It is unfortunate that the presidency misled the nation once again.

The Federal Ministry of Aviation later issued a statement saying the Taraba State Governor, Danbaba Suntai, and the other five passengers aboard the crashed plane are alive.

This is the second time the presidency would mislead the nation in less than a month. In his Independence Day anniversary speech, President Goodluck Jonathan had lied that global corruption watchdog, Transparency International, had endorsed and praised his administration’s war against corruption.

“In its latest report, Transparency International (TI) noted that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption,” the President said with glee.

But after this newspaper exposed the lies contained in the president’s broadcast after doing a thorough fact check and interviewing officials of TI, Mr. Omokri took to social media deriding our medium and labeling it an opposition platform.

President Jonathan and his officials  are yet to apologise for the misinformation and the global embarrassment many believe the false claim brought upon Nigeria.

No presidency official has also been punished over the matter.

The Special Adviser on Media to the President, Reuben Abati, could not be reached to comment for this story. Calls to his telephones were neither answered nor returned.

  • Sam

    Like like many of us and many news websites, Reno Omokri thought the Gov. died, and as soon as he learned he was alive, he deleted his tweet – unlike many news websites yet to delete or modify their articles. So how does this translate to “…presidency pronounced Gov. Danbaba Suntai dead”. You Premium Times are beginning to sound like troublemakers or anti-Nigerian-Presidency. Please delete this report of yours and don’t be unprofessional!

    • NAGODI

      A GOVT SOURCE SHOULD BE A TRUSTED SOURCE. PEOPLE EXPECT FACTS NOT RUMOURS FROM THOSE AROUND THE PRESIDENT. I AM SURPRISED THAT SAM IS NOT ALARMED AT THE POTRAYAL OF THE PRESIDENTS CLOSE ASSOCIATES AS BEING AT WORST LIARS AND AT MOST RUMOUR MONGERS. IF THEY WONT CHECK FACTS FOR A PLANE CRASH, WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THEY WILL CHECK FACTS FOR A BOKO HARAM BOMBING?

    • Akin

      ….hear yourself, ‘Reno Omokri thought the Gov. died’ … thought??? who asked him to think? I think the Presidency stinks but i cant post it online as my official thought. Thinking made a man ‘shit’ in his pants, he thought he was going o fart, but he poopooed! just like Reno Omokri.

  • wenogodie

    The presidency has once again given Nigerians and the world at large another ‘notorious fact’? on gov. Suntai’s aircrash. We are indeed fedup with Omokri’ notorious nonsense! The office of the presidency shouldnt be a refinery for lies. Let Omokri go and refine crude oil for us instead of crude rumors. May God grant Suntai a quick recovery as against the wishes of the presidency, Amen.

  • AFAM

    Stupidity to call the name of presidency here,is the tweeter handle GEJ or office of the presidency? it is pure personal tweeter handle.Never you link individual tweet to the presidency even if he is working with the president,we must learn how to separate individuals from institution like the presidency.From day one i know that premiumtimes are anti-GEJ but they are using the journalism friendly environment which was given by GEJ to portray his regime as a dirty regime,junk journalists like those once have abused the use of FOI BILL…

    • gospel

      I don’t see why he shouldn’t be mentioned, if it’s been used previously to decimate information for the president.

  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    mistakes has been made and most people have moved on. Will Premium Times?

  • igbiki

    This Omokri guy stinks to high heavens. Was he not the one with the issues of the president’s Nigeria’s Transparency International ratings speech saga?

    I wonder what an idiot who cant verify his facts is still doing near Mr Jonathan.

  • george

    It is a common knoledge that presidency speaks before they think

  • bilal adams

    Forgive me if I over state the fact, The whole Gudluck leadership is a shame!

    We are so unlucky. This is our Rubish bin. There is absolutely nothing to save from this bunch-like rotten bananas.