GARBA Shehu, the presidential spokesperson has denied claims made by SaharaReporters that he authored the controversial report which accused Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President and Femi Falana, a human right lawyer of being involved in the allegation against the embattled former Acting Chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
Shehu said he does not write for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), thus could not be accused to have authored the said report.
“I don’t write stories for NAN,” Shehu told The ICIR in a reply to a text message sent to his line.
Shehu also said NAN never published a report indicting the vice president.
“NAN did not at any time write any such rubbish against the respected Vice President. So, I cannot be accused of doing a story that never was published by the government agency.”
Sahara Reporters had earlier accused Shehu in a tweet shared on its verified handle. It described the presidential aide as the “ghostwriter” of the viral report.
FLASH: President Buhari’s spokesperson, @GarShehu identified as the ghost writer of the story published by News Agency of Nigeria @nannews_ng alleging suspended @officialEFCC Chair, Ibrahim Magu gave VP @ProfOsinbajo N4billion and Popular Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana N28million
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) July 17, 2020
The New York-based online newspaper alleged Osinbajo got N4 billion while Falana was given N28 million.
Meanwhile, an online newspaper had on July 8, published a similar report headlined: “How Magu Embezzled N39 billion, Gave Osinbajo N4 billion, Begs for Soft Landing.”
The report which has since been denied by Lalolu Akande, media aide to Osinbajo became an issue of public debate.
Magu also refuted the report of giving the purported sum to the vice president.
Other newspapers that published the same story have deleted the post.
One of the national dailies which had reportedly sourced the story from NAN, in which Falana was indicted has apologised for the publication.
This was after Falana through his lawyer, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) had demanded a retraction of the story.
Meanwhile, despite published reports which showed the controversial story purportedly emanated from the NAN, the presidential spokesperson insisted otherwise.
As of the time of filing this report, NAN is yet to denying publishing the report.
However, following the claim by the Sahara Reporters, Shehu vowed to defend the current administration against any attempt by Omoyele Sowore to take-over the government.
“But as a presidential spokesperson, I stood in defence of the administration against any attempt by a digital publisher to cause the overthrow of the government elected by Nigerians,” Shehu said, stressing that “For doing my job, I know there is a price.”
Magu who has been at the centre of the allegation was accused of looting part of N551 billion recovered sum, following corruption allegation levelled against him by Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
A report by the Presidential Investigation Committee investigating the suspended EFCC boss accused him of acquiring property in Dubai valued at N573 million through an Abuja based clergy identified as pastor Omale.
Magu has denied the allegation.
He was later released after spending days at Area 10, Force Criminal Investigation Department where he had been detained.