The son of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Mohammed Atiku Abubakar, has accused the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, of lying about how he contracted coronavirus.
Mr Abubakar, in a short message he shared on the WhatsApp platform of The Atiku Mandate, said he never shook hands with the governor when they met on board an Aero Contractors aircraft.
The duo, accompanied by their wives, boarded the plane on March 18 at about 5:20 p.m from Lagos to Abuja.
On his return to Abuja, Mr Abubakar tested positive for the virus, and has since been undergoing treatment at a government facility.
Following Atiku Abubakar’s open declaration of his son’s health status, the governor’s spokesperson, Mukhtar Gidado, announced in a statement that the governor had self-isolated, citing his meeting with Mr Abubakar.
Mr Mohammed said he boarded the same flight and shook hands with Mr Abubakar.
On Tuesday, Mr Gidado said in another statement that Gov Mohammed had tested positive for the virus.
“This is to inform the general public that the results of the six initial tests carried out by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) on His Excellency, Senator Bala Mohammed, his family and aides that accompanied him to Lagos is (sic) out,” the statement said.
“Of the six initial tests carried out, one sample was confirmed positive of COVID-19. The positive result happens to be that of His Excellency, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State.
“At this point, it should be noted that the governor is on self-isolation as his doctors and officials from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) have taken full charge of his quarantine.”
“His Excellency solicits for prayers from all and requests that all those who had contact with him or anyone known to have the same medical condition to go for test immediately in order to avert further spread of COVID-19 epidemic,” the statement reads.
But Mr Abubakar said he “did not shake hands with Governor Bala Mohammed”.
He said he “sat on a seat across the aisle on the Aerocontractors flight from Lagos to Abuja”.
Governor’s trip abroad
Meanwhile, findings by PREMIUM TIMES have shown that like the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, the Bauchi governor was also in Germany between March 12 and 15.
He was said to have returned to Nigeria on March 15.
Another source within the Atiku family, who did not want to be named, also told PREMIUM TIMES that; “It was, therefore, surprising that the governor in his statements never mentioned that he travelled to Germany where he met many business partners and investors. Why did he hide such an important aspect of his movement and the emphasis was on a handshake that never happened.”
Corroborating the claim were some of the governor’s tweets and pictures posted on March 13, which showed his trip in Germany, sitting on a round table amongst foreign partners.
PREMIUM TIMES learned that the governor signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a German organisation, Water is Right Foundation, and also reportedly met two representatives of Bauchi community in Germany.
Usman Giade of Deutsche Welle Radio and another Bauchi State indigene, identified as Gar of the University of Berlin’s Linguistics department, represented the community at a meeting.
Meeting Dangote, Nanono, others
Since then, the governor had other meetings. He met with the business mogul, Aliko Dangote, and the minister of agriculture, Sabo Nanono, last week, according to his tweets.
The tweets said Mr Dangote led a team of the Aliko Dangote Foundation to his office and pledged to empower 1,000 rural women in each of the 20 local government areas in the state.
“Also, resulting from our meeting this afternoon, the @AlikoDangoteFdn further committed to building five additional primary healthcare centres for enhanced healthcare service delivery in the state. #GreaterBauchi,” the governor tweeted six days ago.
The tweet was accompanied by a group picture with the governor standing beside Mr Dangote among other personalities.
Similarly, on Thursday, the governor tweeted about the minister’s visit with their picture was also shared.
He also shared his photo at the National Economic Council meeting where he sat close to the Bayelsa State Governor, Duoye Diri, and another where he was in a discussion with his Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki.
It is, however, not clear, if these individuals and officials the governor had met within the last one week have embarked on self-isolation or not.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been amended to correct the attribution error suggesting that Mr Abubakar shared his comment with PREMIUM TIMES via the WhatsApp platform. An inaccurate quote was also corrected.