The Presidency has refuted claims that President Goodluck Jonathan plans to visit former military President Ibrahim Babangida in Minna to show him “the spirit of comradeship”.
It said a report by a national daily that President Jonathan had sought to visit the former general to pay sallah homage and had been turned down, was completely untrue.
A statement by the Presidential Spokesman Dr Rueben Abati demanding retraction of the report also stated that “though President Jonathan participates in the Ramadan fast every year in solidarity with Nigerians of the Islamic faith, he has never as Vice President or President of the country visited the residence of any individual to break his fast”.
The statement added that rather, it has been the President’s custom to regularly invite Moslems from all strata of society to break their fast with him at the Presidential Villa during the month of Ramadan.
“In keeping with that established practice, President Jonathan has been busy hosting Moslems, most evenings of the current Ramadan season.
“As much as he respects and holds former President Babangida in high regard, President Jonathan has never indicated any interest in visiting him at Minna during the current Ramadan.
“Therefore, there could not have been any “turning down” of a visit by President Jonathan by the former president.
“We condemn the decision of the editors of the Peoples Daily to publish such arrant falsehood in spite of our vigorous rebuttal as a further manifestation of a continuing effort to sow the seeds of discord in the polity.
“Although the newspaper cites a phantom “reliable presidency source” and “a source close to the former president” to buttress its fictitious report, the editors of Peoples Daily know fully well that they can never prove the veracity of the false claim that President Jonathan either offered to break fast with General Babangida in Minna or was turned down by the former president.
“We therefore demand a full retraction of the totally false report which demeans the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and an apology by the newspaper,” the statement read.