Presidency dismisses London Telegraph’s article on President Buhari

The Presidency on Wednesday dismissed an article by The Telegraph (London) allegedly accusing Nigeria of using aids giving to it by Britain to persecute President Muhammadu Buhari’s political foes rather than fight Boko Haram.

A statement issued in Abuja by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, said the article was full of factual inaccuracies and a clear ignorance of Nigeria and the country’s ongoing war against terrorism.

The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to a piece published on April 12, 2016 in The Telegraph (London) paper by one Con Coughlin (identified as ‘Defence Editor’), titled “Nigeria using UK aid to persecute president’s political foes rather than to fight Boko Haram.”

“The piece is not only full of factual inaccuracies, it also betrays a shocking ignorance of Nigeria and the country’s ongoing war against terrorism.

“Mr Coughlin’s editorial tactic is to quote unnamed senior officials’ and `western diplomats’ and `western officials’ and `political opponents’, making fact-free and unfounded statements.

“It also appears that he sought out only those opinions which suited and reinforced his disgracefully false headline.

“Nowhere in the piece is there anything that suggests he attempted to contact the Nigerian government for its own side of the story.

“Coughlin writes that “American officials are also angry that 2.1 billion Dollars of aid given to the Nigerian military to tackle Boko Haram has not been properly accounted for.

“It does not occur to him that the 2.1 billion Dollars he refers to was budgeted for and wholly spent by the government that President Buhari and his party defeated in the March 2015 presidential elections, and that one of President Buhari’s priorities has been investigating the misuse of those funds.

“It also does not appear to occur to Mr Coughlin that the “political opponents” he is falsely accusing President Buhari of “targeting” and “persecuting” are actually on trial on account of how they spent the 2.1 billion dollars in question.’’

According to Mr. Shehu, Coughlin is equally unaware of the fact that the investigating panel set up by President Buhari to probe the 2.1 billion Dollars recently published a preliminary report that confirmed that much of that money was indeed looted or mispent by the accused persons.

He said that already, government had started to recover the looted funds.

The presidential aide also dismissed Coughlin’s accusation that President Buhari’s government was attempting to cover-up the abduction of 400 women and children “abducted last year by militants from the Nigerian town of Damasak.’’

“This is absolutely untrue. The Damasak abductions he’s referring to, which were recently widely reported, took place, not “last year” as he says, but in late 2014, well before Buhari was elected President of Nigeria.

“And by the way, President Buhari came to power on May 29, 2015, not July, as Coughlin reported.

“A simple search by Mr Coughlin of his archives would have revealed these facts. A simple fact-check by his copy-editors would have spared the Telegraph the embarrassment of publishing this drivel.’’

According to Mr. Shehu, there are several other inaccuracies and baseless statements in the piece, but Mr Coughlin is too enamoured of his anonymous sources to realise they might be misleading him, or be as ignorant about the situation as he is.

“The suggestion that Boko Haram is going “from strength to strength” is an eminently laughable one; not even Nigeria’s opposition party would make such an absurd claim.

“Since President Buhari took office, schools in Borno, shut for more than one year under the previous government, have reopened.

“The same applies to the airport in Maiduguri, shut in December 2013 after a devastating Boko Haram attack on the nearby Air Force Base.’’

Shehu noted that thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) had now started returning home, while on Sunday, El-Kanemi Warriors Football Club played its first game in its home base of Maiduguri in more than two seasons.

He said “until now, the club had been forced to play home games outside the region, on account of security concerns.

“There are several more examples of how the people of the region are finally getting a chance to rebuild their lives, as the Nigerian Armed Forces and a Multinational Joint Task Force continue their work of routing the terrorists.

“Coughlin not only sounds like a spokesperson for the very people whose corruption and mismanagement allowed Boko Haram to bring Nigeria to its knees – and whose disastrous legacy President Buhari spent the last one year redeeming Nigeria from – he is also guilty of failing to observe the most basic rules of responsible journalism.

“Coughlin needs a refresher course on responsible journalism as much as he needs a crash course on Nigeria.

“Until he submits himself to these, we’re afraid he will continue to embarrass not only himself, but also the revered British media institution that is the Telegraph.”

(NAN)


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  • Funso Famuyiwa

    The Telegraph Article was clearly “sponsored” as it was riddled with inaccuracies as well as falsehoods .
    “Brown Envelopes” can have a long reach – including transborder / transatlantic !
    The best riposte is instant Rebuttal with Facts as Mr. Shehu as done.

  • Profit Ibrahim

    So embarrassing and shameful that such a paper would publish rubbish like that. Nigeria is such a banana republic that its gov’t will have to wait for British aids if it wants to ‘persecute’ political enemies. Journalism and freedom of speech taken out of context or outrightly abused. Disgusting

  • AFRICANER

    We need more information about the serious charges made by Mr. Coughlin. Who knew the Brits gave almost a billion pounds to fight terrorism? We see comments about the $2.1 billion US one here but nothing of the British.

    “He said that already, government had started to recover the looted funds” – how much has been recovered, and where is it line item-ed in the submitted budget?

    The accusation of political enemy persecution is not on prima facie, it’s undeniable even to the gullible.

    It appears everyone id in agreement that The Telegraph is not a tabloid newspaper.

    I ask the Newspaper to do a follow up, and help beam a searchlight into the dictatorial tendencies referred, and help Nigeria at this our that even the opposition spokesman has been arrested and made effete.

    • soyo

      Ignorance at its worst!

  • Henry Nworu

    It appears Garba Shehu and Mr. Coughlin are talking about two separate $2.1b. The one Garba Shehu was struggling to explain was part of the Abacha loot returned by the Swiss government, for which Dasuki has been incarcerated almost indefinitely on Buhari’s orders, as he claims the money was meant for arms purchase, but diverted by Dasuki and others. The $2.1b Mr. Coughlin wrote about came from the British government as financial aid to the Nigerian government. It is important to stress here that playing with words and hauling insults at Mr. Coughlin will not help matters. Garba Shehu should realize that Mr. Coughlin has every right to be upset about the mismanagement of funds donated by his country to Nigeria, where the case of mismanagement has been established. Therefore, Garba Shehu has to be very careful with his utterances in this regard, but must make certain that he is presenting the facts. He should keep in mind that it would be a monumental disaster for Buhari if Mr. Coughlin is proven to be right.
    As for the growing strength of Boko Haram, Garba Shehu should also remember that the US commander of AFRICOM, General Rodriguez, last month contradicted Buhari on his claim that Boko Haram no longer holds any territory in Nigeria. The General stated unequivocally, that Boko Haram still hold territories in Nigeria.
    A word is enough to the wise. Nigeria can no longer afford this endless embarrassment before the international community.

    • AfricanChild

      UK gave $2.1b financial aid to Nigeria? You dont understand what you are talking about mate.

      • soyo

        No mind the Nwosu guy jare, he just dey wake up.

    • soyo

      Oga Nwosu, forget about these foreign guys and media, sebi u dey live in Nigeria, you tell us your own truthful observation about FG’s war against Boko Haram under this administration compared to what the situation was a year ago. Stop glorifying what one funny white man wrote or said above what the real experience of the citizens are as read in all news media in Nigeria. Whose report will you believe, that of conman Con of UK Telegraph or one Africom commander or the one of natives of Borno and Yobe that know what transformation their lives have experienced since Buhari took over and as reported by all local media nationwide with no single exception.
      On Coughlin’s 2.1b USD, whichever one he may be referring to, this administration remains clean and it’s rather the one helping the country to recover looted funds from the PDP plunderers. So, make Coughlin go spend d bribe he has collected from Metuh to write his jaundiced report, and if UK Telegraph get sense, let them probe dat guy. I can swear with my life that that Con-man has collected huge amount of pounds to write dat palpably flawed report that was not even properly edited grammatically. Oyinbo think say all black na mumu wey go take their heavily flawed reports hook, line and sinkers. God forbid! Not somebody like me, Nwosu can do that.

    • Nanchin

      Once again my brother, study the facts. If you research you will see that the 2.1 billion Garba Shehu is referring to is not Abacha loot. or the one Dasuki and his co travelers are facing trial for. The 2.1 billion dollars is the aid given to fight Boko Haram for which Badeh and others are being tried for.Like he said, a committee was set up,and some officers are facing trial already. And can we say that Boko Haram is going from strength to strength? While we agree that there is still work to be done, if we are honest, we can truly say that things are better in the North East compared to what it was last year and even before that

  • True Nigerian

    The telegraph should feel embarrassed by Mr Coughlin’s laughable ignorance, poor investigation, if not deliberate lies. It’s really laughable. To think that such horrendous quality of journalism could come from a big medium as Telegraph is really humorous.

  • favourtalk

    The paper and the guy that wrote the article hasn’t seen what the northeast are enjoying now through the intervention and great work of our military after Jonathan left office, what pmb had done to give peace back to that place. He wouldn’t have written all this trash

  • tao news

    The latest sad news from the president and “former” dictator is the threat to treat anybody alleged to have tampered with oil pipeline or power installation “like Boko Haram.” If we study carefully the underlying tone and body language of General Buhari, this might be another veiled plan to destroy communities and kill people of the oil producing South under the guise of protecting pipelines.

    largest oil producer in Africa

    We hope that this is not an indirect authorization by for the military and police to continue with extra judicial killings of the southern people. We at TAO remind the General Buhari (retired or not), that the whole world is watching. A tacit approval for genocide will not be without consequences. The international Court of Justice, Amnesty International and Human Rights Organizations are watching.

    General Buhari on Wednesday was quoted as saying Nigeria will crack down on groups responsible for recent pipeline attacks in the oil-producing Delta region,

    “We will deal with them the way we dealt with Boko Haram,”

    “I hope this message will reach the vandals and saboteurs who are blowing up pipelines and installations,” he said.

    “The government is still being dared, but those who are sensible should have learnt a lesson. Those who are mad, let them continue in their madness.

    “I am aware that in the last two weeks, the national grid collapsed a number of times. I hope this message will reach the vandals and saboteurs who are blowing up pipelines and installations.

    “We will deal with them the way we dealt with Boko Haram.”

    We at TAO just want to remind the General that “blood is thicker than oil”. There must NOT be bloodshed again because of oil.

    • soyo

      Tao or Tianshi, whichever one you guys are, why have you failed to at least counsel or condemn the vandals in the south in this your fake comment. There was never any point in your message where you condemned the barbaric act of vandalisation and economic sabotage being perpetrated by this unrepentantly destructive boys, but all you came all out to do was to condemn the punishment that Mr President pledged to mete out to them. Try and be objectively patriotic for once if truly you are Nigerian and not Chinese in your calling. Is your Tao Taofiki or Taoridi, abi na chinko Tao Lee? Nobody sabi you guys o, abi na rebranded Jonathan’s TAN be TAO ni?

  • excel

    The telegraph authority need to carry out through investigation about this journalist, it seemed more like he is written on behalf of the pdpig to be written by a, judging from the sheer amount of nescience, unenlightenment, falsehood, misinformation and outright ignorance that was contained in the report.
    It a shameful thing that such a disgraceful article will be publish by the telegraph. abi oyinbos too dey collect brown evelope ni?

    • shola

      “abi oyinbos too dey collect brown evelope ni?” That for sure! We are fighting against this handwork we learnt from them. The oyibos do it subtly. That is the difference – till date.

  • FormerNigerian

    To APC e-rats: Mr Coughlin is a respected journalist who has worked for several decades. He’s an investigative journalist and it’s laughable to suggest he’s been ‘sponsored’. Truth hurts.

    • soyo

      It’s abundantly true that your are a “Former Nigerian” because no present Nigerian would write in this senseless manner as you have written. Since you are a former Nigerian, I don’t have much to say to you. It’s present Nigerians that I have business with. U can continue to rant like a broken record for all we care. It’s we Nigerians that know that Con’s cunning write-up was full of balderdash and sponsored “anonymous sources”. It’s true then guy is a conman according to his name – Con. It’s the power of PDP bribe in pounds that was driving his writing, so he’s free to write fallacies and branded them facts. Useless and hungry “defence editor” and “former nigerian”

    • ijelejames

      Why are you meddling in nigeria’s affairs if you are no longer a Nigerian? You views are driven by hate. Go take a nap.

    • tundemash

      Investigative ? And yet he mixes up common dates ? I guess he’s a former Nigerian like you.

      • AFRICANER

        The USA gave another $2.1 Billion to Mr. Buhari on his 1st or 2nd visit since he became president, not the arms purchase one Shehu is confusing with Dasuki’s money, I think.

        The Western media are not going to be intimidated, they are on his trail now.

        • tundemash

          Mr. Career Liar, u are a drowning cl0wn clinging to anything in sight.

  • Hauwa A. Mohammed

    The journalist is a hired writer from all indications! I wonder how much he collected from these Nigerian desperadoes!

  • atlantean

    So the western powers that installed Buhari have finally realized what a fraud he is. They haven’t seen anything yet.

  • shola

    Sue Mr. Coughlin as a “newspaper hoax” for breaking this hoax to the public, to serve as a deterrent to other hired journalists.

  • AFRICANER

    “According to Mr. Shehu, Coughlin is equally unaware of the fact that the investigating panel set up by President Buhari to probe the 2.1 billion Dollars recently published a preliminary report that confirmed that much of that money was indeed looted or mispent by the accused persons”. – Shehu

    Not so fast Mr. Shehu,

    The USA gave another $2.1 Billion to Mr. Buhari on his 1st or 2nd visit since he became president, not the arms purchase one you are confusing with Dasuki’s stuff, if I’m not mistaken.

    The western folks are NOT like Nigeria, they will not be intimidated, the truth will come out.

    We shall monitor how many heads of state meet with Mr. Buhari going forward.