Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, on Saturday, resorted to pouring invective on PREMIUM TIMES over the newspaper’s request for his academic records and subsequent report on his failure to release them.
Atiku, through his media aide, Paul Ibe, reacted in a statement only few hours after the story was published on Saturday.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the last election had ignored this newspaper’s request for over two months.
PREMIUM TIMES first made the request in a letter dated 3 October, and when he did not respond after seven weeks, sent a reminder to him on 13 November. His media adviser, Mr Ibe, assured of a prompt response, making PREMIUM TIMES to wait further for almost four weeks before publishing Saturday’s report.
For the period after this newspaper sent the reminder, Mr Ibe and his principal made no comment on the issue until Saturday when they baselessly accused the newspaper of a witch-hunt.
PREMIUM TIMES reported on Saturday his refusal to release his records as requested.
The report contrasted his attitude with his dogged pursuit of the academic records of President Bola Tinubu to as far as the United States a few months ago.
Atiku, claiming to be driven by his commitment to public probity and accountability, sent lawyers to the U.S. to have a court to compel the Chicago State University to release Mr Tinubu’s academic records.
Our report also drew parallels between Atiku’s attitude and former U.S. President Donald Trump’s prevarication, dodging the requests by UK Guardian newspaper for his birth records as he had earlier demanded of his predecessor, then President Barack Obama.
Reacting to PREMIUM TIMES report on Saturday, Atiku said the newspaper had no right to conduct an enquiry into his records which he said were neither controversial nor shrouded in secrecy.
Atiku, instead of responding to why he had failed to provide the documents, accused the newspaper of mischief and unprofessionalism.
He also claimed that the story was “fictional”.
“Without adherence to any known ethics of journalism, the Premium Times newspaper went into its mill to publish a story that is neither controversial nor shrouded in a cover-up,” Mr Ibe, wrote in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES Saturday.
Atiku claimed that all the documents requested were in the public and that the newspaper should have requested them from the electoral commission, INEC, and the institutions where he claimed to have graduated from.
“Atiku is an alumnus of both Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom. Premium Times did not place an order for Atiku’s academic records with these reputable institutions, nor did Atiku stop the school or go to court to ask any of these schools not to release his records. Premium Times is also at liberty to write to the West African Examination Council (WAEC) demanding for a copy of the former Vice President’s certificate and transcript.”
Against expectations, Atiku did not accompany his statement with the requested documents on Saturday.
He baselessly accused the newspaper of protecting the interest of the Tinubu administration.
He said: “The ethics of journalism seeks to establish the truth when there is a dispute about it or when there is a deliberate cover-up that inhibits public interest.
“What the Premium Times has done in this case keeps faith in neither of these two precepts. The story in reference by Premium Times is nothing other than witch-hunt – and a callous one at that.
“Were the publishers of the Premium Times stable interested in the truth, it would have been more honourable for them to start their busybody foray into politicians’ academic records by interrogating the discoveries from the Chicago State University. They certainly refrained from that engagement for the obvious reason that a parent owner of the newspaper occupies a critical seat in the current government.
“And, then, we ask the question: What manner of a newspaper sets out to protect the interest of a government but is very willing to embark on a wild goose chase on a private citizen?”
PREMIUM TIMES challenges Atiku to name ‘parent owner’ in govt.
Meanwhile, PREMIUM TIMES has challenged Atiku to name its “parent owner” he claimed to be serving in the President Tinubu administration.
“Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar should be bold enough to name the person he claimed to be a parent owner of our newspaper that occupies a critical seat in the current government. We dare him to name the person,” the Editor-in-Chief of PREMIUM TIMES, Musikilu Mojeed, said in reaction to Atiku’s baseless claim on Saturday.
“It is unfortunate that at his level, he can make an allegation of this nature publicly without any proof whatsoever. Much more is expected from people aspiring to lead a country like Nigeria.”
This year, the former Vice President sent his lawyers to the United States to legally force Chicago State University (CSU) to release the academic records of President Tinubu, whose election he disputed but lost in court.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe
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