No one can force Buhari to talk, says presidency

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President Buhari's Health - Minister Asks Nigerians To Disregard Rumours
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President Buhari's Health - Minister Asks Nigerians To Disregard Rumours
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• Minister, Adesina insist president not ill
• Security agents to tackle fake news peddlers

President Muhammadu Buhari is not ill and admitted in any hospital in London as being speculated. But he cannot be forced to speak to Nigerians, the presidency declared yesterday.

The clarification came amid rumours that Buhari is critically down with an undisclosed sickness that may lead to his death. But according to the presidency, Buhari is in London on vacation.

This clarification may not stop the rumour mill being stoked by those who expect the president to speak out or appear in the public to dispel the speculation about his health .

Buhari transmitted a letter to the National Assembly to the effect that he would begin a 10-day vacation from January 23, 2017, but he actually began the vacation two days earlier, January 21. If the date to reckon with is January 23, he will be due to resume work on February 3. But if January 21 is the date to take, Buhari will be expected back at work on February 1.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, made the clarification yesterday in a live interview programme on CNBC Africa, which was monitored in Abuja. He said that the rumoured hospitalisation of the president was a figment of people’s imagination.

“The president is in London on vacation. He is not in any hospital and he is not ill. When he was travelling last week, the statement we put out was that he was going on vacation, and during the vacation he would do routine medical check-up and nothing has changed from what we pushed out last week. If anybody has fed something else into the rumour mill, that is just what it is – rumour,” Adesina said.

He said the president would decide if he wished to talk to Nigerians from the UK or not. “Despite the fact that he is a president, he still has his rights. Compelling him to come out and talk will be infringing on his rights. The president will talk if he wishes to, if he doesn’t wish to, nobody will compel him to talk. The truth is that the president is on vacation and he has given a date on which he will return to work.”

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed also refuted a media report alleging that governors were planning to send a delegation to confirm the health status of Buhari in London. He says there is no need for such an emissary since the president is in good health.

Receiving members of the Presidential Committee on the Northeast Initiative’s Sub-Committee on Economic Development yesterday, the minister stated that governors were not meeting in Abuja because there was no need for it and there was no plan to send any emissary to London to see the president.

Meanwhile, security agents are planning to arrest and prosecute those peddling speculative news about Buhari’s health. A recent report that Buhari died in a foreign hospital nearly swept the nation into mourning again, after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in circumstances shrouded in secrecy. The report was later confirmed to be false.

The Guardian learnt that the government, in a bid to curb the trend, has tasked top security agencies in the country to fish out the troublemakers, especially unregistered online media organisations which, in seeking recognition and ‘hits’, publicise fake news.

When The Guardian contacted the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Don Awunah, an Acting Commissioner of Police (Ag.CP), to confirm the report, he said those behind it were “just mischief makers out to deceive the public.’’

“You know the online thing especially, it is gradually becoming a menace to the Nigerian society. People stay in the comfort of
their rooms and claim they are publishing online, whereas they peddle a bunch of lies,” he remarked.

He said the visit of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, to the United Kingdom to strengthen technical partnership with the London Metropolitan Police was also misrepresented by an online publication that he led a delegation of government officials to visit Buhari.

Asked if the police were tracing those behind the rumour with a view to bringing them to justice, Awunah said though they were not known, it would be proper to ask them to stop.

But a competent source told The Guardian on the condition of anonymity that those publishing and circulating the stories could be fished out within one week.

“But for now, there are some modalities being worked out, legislative frameworks and otherwise. The other way is that they would be charged with tax evasion, we all know it is a serious offence against the government for one not to pay tax, especially on a profitable venture,” he said.

A legal practitioner in Abuja, Cosmas Akighir, reacted thus: “The publishers of these alleged false stories have their freedom to circulate information, but it has to be credible in a manner that it is neither libelous nor seditious. If it is to inform, based on credible background, such a person is not liable.

“On the threat to democracy, it is two-folds: one is that, by circulating false information, like the one on the death of the president, you are fuelling the embers of insecurity and endangering democracy in the process.

“Where there is hunger for power in the military, like we had during the Gen. Sani Abacha days, some soldiers would have started playing martial music on national radio, announcing their takeover. So publishers or rather practitioners must be circumspect in what they publish.

“On another front, arresting these carriers of fake information would not go down well with the government. It is already unpopular among Nigerians. But if there are arrests, it would stem the tide of publication of false news.”

Dr. Anthony Igyuve of the Department of Mass Communication, Nasarawa State University, remarked: “Where a practitioner fails to send in credible and verifiable stories for publication, the whole essence of information dissemination is defeated. What is happening in the social media now is irresponsible and highly condemnable. Unfortunately, some of these so-called publishers were not adequately trained to practise, but the Nigeria Union of Journalists and the National Press Council (NPC) have failed in their role to standardise practice and ensure that quacks are weeded out.”

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16 Comments
  • igbokwe Ndubuisi

    So the president cannot talk on a matter as grave as his rumored death, but security agencies can go against those spreading the news… I ask, which is easier- speaking and calming the situation or wasting nations resources and time trying to arrest the publishers ? The only thing I can make out of this is that this president is a blood thirsty demon, always interested in seeing people suffer, cry and die, perhaps it gives him joy. Let somebody tell him that We run a democracy and not military dictatorship. It is easier to talk than arrest people.

  • vic

    A DEAD MAN DOES NOT TALK TO ANY ONE, DOES HE?????

    • Oluwajoba S. Adegboye

      #word 🙂

  • vic

    A MAN WHO CANNOT MAKE PEACE WITH HIS WIFE CAN MAKE PEACE WITH THE NATION??????????????????

  • Osanebi Osakuni

    Which is easier? For the president that sneaked out of his country to appear on TV to assure the citizens he is leading of his wellbeing or keep mute under mounting public anxiety and start chasing the information management practitioners? Idiocy!!

    • Oluwajoba S. Adegboye

      i wonder how Nigerians think, why cant the President address his citizens (follows) that cares to know his health status. This kind of thing only happen in Nigeria.

      • Osanebi Osakuni

        Don’t worry brother. Half of Buhari’s leave is almost spent. The only issue is that Osibanjo that is a Pastor never condemned the killings of Christians by Fulani Herdsmen once. Not even when his Church member, a woman he personally knows was killed. I don’t know how much protection he will earn from God. However, HIS ways are different from those of man so we watch

  • KennBest

    What imbecility. Who needs Buhari to talk? Even when he talks in good health, we can hardly hear his mallam english. Not to talk of him talking in poor health. Can’t wait to get your ineffectual person out of the presidency in 2019. Your types are beginning to rule everywhere now. We now have another Buhari in America, called Donald.

  • Olalekan Adekoya

    This is the irony we usually got anytime something like this happened. For God sake, Mr. President is not Alhaji Lai Mohammed or Femi Adesina. He is the President of Nigeria with enormous responsibilities and he need to talk to Nigerians no matter what. Which one is simple – “the President is sick and he need our prayers” or “police will arrest those rumor publishers”. What a shame! You guys (political leaders) should be ashamed of yourself for seeking refuge in foreign hospitals whenever you are sick! When did you hear President of USA or Prime Minster of UK seek medical abode is India or Germany? Go on, keep deceiving yourself thinking you are doing Nigerian good. The evil men do sleep with them.

  • Ayo Faleti

    How disingenuous! Even if the president is on vacation as claimed, nothing stops him from interacting with Nigerians informally. What is laid bare in these situations is the complete ruse of Nigeria as a country. Nigeria is not a country; it is a fraud. When we all accept that longstanding reality, we can then begin to assess the possibility of this ‘geographical expression’ ever turning into a viable nation space.

  • Azzo

    Agreed, no one can force Mr President to speak but will his keeping silent in the matter help or worsen matters? The nation is tethering on the edge, there is anxiety everywhere and then you add this about the C-in-C health status, it simply signals that the country should shut down if it wants to and who cares if it does shut down. In other climes, citizens are always in the know on matters concerning their leaders whether or not they are doing well with leadership duties. It is not clear why this right to information is denied Nigerians always.

  • Tunde

    Mr Presidnt! Do not say a word, or these no gooders will win. Your vacation is almost done! Enjoy Jare!

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  • Nwaizu Ikechukwu Bruno

    HM! Could this be ruse to check the popularity, acceptance and loyalty of the ruling class to the President, as well as see the emergence of the direction Nigeria will go in the eventuality of such a situation? G-d Yaisa, Mbanu! it is rather an expensive joke. Nigeria cannot afford another Maradoonic Yaradua/Goodluck stage play. Issues at stake supercedes investment in a regional stronghold. Gbam! Kaje! The president should make a video for his electorates and not for his Aristocrats and elites.

  • Asuquo Nsa

    I wish the President well. Frankly speaking, i am terribly disappointed. When did a British Prime Minister come to Nigeria on vacation? When did any British Prime Minister come to Nigeria for medical check up? Who picks the bills? Where is the change we all yearn for? It means non of the Resorts facilities, (such as Obudu Mountain Resort) or Medical facilities is good enough for President. What a demarketing of national facilities by its number one citizen? The old order still prevails!

  • Zim

    Anybody, minister, governor, senator commissioner, anybody who thinks he can fool the people is only fooling himself. The president didn’t get the job because of his looks but because THE PEOPLE PUT HIM THERE TO WORK FOR THEM. All the arrogant pompous fools who think the people can’t demand the presence of the president say that only because they have something to hide. TELL THE MAN TO SHOW HIS FACE TO THE PEOPLE WHO GAVE HIM THE JOB AND STOP BEING STUPID

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