A spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign in the Edo 2020 governorship election has apologised to an election official whom he accused of receiving bribe from Governor Godwin Obaseki during the election.
Three months after the election which was won by Mr Obaseki of the Peoples Democratic Party, the spokesperson, John Mayaki, has come out to describe as fake the claim he made in a press release that Mike Igini, the INEC resident electoral commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, held a secret meeting with Governor Obaseki and that Mr Igini left the Edo Government House “with sacks of money”.
Some newspapers, including The Sun, Vanguard, and Nigeria Tribune ran a story from Mr Mayaki’s release, even though Mr Igini was not part of the election and never visited the Edo Government House during the election.
Mr Igini, at a press conference he called in October to react to the allegation, said he and his two other colleagues stopped over at Protea Hotel, Benin City, on August 24 for refreshments before they moved on to attend a burial in Delta State.
The INEC official filed a N10 billion libel suit against David Imuse, a factional chairperson of APC in Edo and Mr Mayaki.
He also filed a separate suit demanding N5 billion as damages from Messrs Imuse and Mayaki
Mr Mayaki in his Christmas Day release said the story on Mr Igini was “fatally wrong and unable to pass credibility check”. “This is an embarrassment even to my humble self,” he said.
Mr Mayaki said he “unfortunately” allowed his political interest, and not his judgement as a professional journalist, to guide him on the information about Mr Igini which he said he got from a “source”.
“I have taken time to scrutinise and review my source, the story itself and also listened to the testimony of other credible persons on this statement and the impeccable character of Mr. Mike Igini and have come to the conclusion and admission that something went wrong – my investigation and findings have now revealed that the story was not only untrue but unable to pass integrity and credibility checks.
“This source did not only mislead me to mislead the people but also to impugn on the reputation of Mr. Mike Igini and for which I am deeply embarrassed – I apologise.
“I tender my profound apology to Mr. Mike Igini, the Governor of Edo state, Mr Godwin Obaseki, Mr. Anselm Ojezua – whose names appeared in that statement and on whom the story touches directly. By extension, I apologise to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the inconveniences or embarrassment this statement has occasioned them as I hold Mr. Mike Igini in the highest esteem,” Mr Mayaki said.
“I will learn from these embarrassing moments and am determined to win back the confidence of my readers by putting in more hard work in whatever assignment under my supervision,” he added.
PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately reach Mr Igini for his comment.