Malabu: Some people are jealous of my rising international profile, says Jonathan

  • As Brazil judge targets dozens of politicians for ‘corruption’

Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan has again denied allegations that he is sponsoring the Niger Delta Avengers.

He added that the allegation was being sponsored by those who were intimidated by his rising profile in Nigeria and abroad.

The former President said this in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, on Thursday.

There had been publications that the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government had begun probing Jonathan over alleged link to the Niger Delta Avengers.

The statement, however, said, “It is sad that the publications wore the cloak of deceit from the same misguided characters that are hell-bent on pulling down the former President despite his clear record of diligent service to his country and long-standing commitment to the good of the society.

“There is no doubt that there exists such people who may have scores to settle with the former President, but are now feeling frustrated by the fact that his national and international profiles have continued to rise despite their recourse to endless muck-raking character assassination. Such people will stop at nothing to continue to throw obstacles, albeit futilely, on his path.

“We are aware that the same people approached other well-meaning newspapers with the same false information, but they were wise to turn it down on account of its absurdity.”

Jonathan advised the media to be professional and do more of investigative reporting instead of making reference to allegations of aggrieved militants.

He said no responsible security agency would release such falsehood to the press.

The statement added, “From what we know about intelligence gathering, there is no responsible government agency that would rush, as claimed in the newspaper stories, to adopt the accusations of a questionable rebellious organisation as its own findings, without applying the professional processes of rigour and due diligence.

“Our media houses should be careful not to make the country a laughing stock by being hoodwinked into passing off the perverted voices of irritant groups as that of our well-respected official and security authorities.”

The ex-President said newspapers promoting spurious allegations against him were toying with libel and destroying the image of Nigeria.

“Apart from toying with the serious issue of libel, those newspapers lending themselves to be cheaply used by miscreants are also doing gross disservice to our collective good and the image of the country,” he said.

In the meantime, a Brazilian judge has revealed the names of dozens of politicians to be investigated over alleged involvement in a huge bribery scandal.

After much speculation in the country’s press, Judge Edson Fachin unveiled his extensive list on Tuesday.

It includes almost a third of President Michel Temer’s cabinet and Rio de Janeiro’s mayor during the Olympics.

The names were passed by corrupt former officials from construction giant Odebrecht.

The firm has admitted paying $1bn (£800,000) in bribes.

Judge Fachin’s list names a total of eight ministers, including Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes and the president’s chief of staff, plus scores of other members of Congress.

Its release is part of a major probe known as Operation Car Wash, which was launched three years ago amid escalating public discontent over political corruption.

The operation centres on companies that were offered deals with state oil company Petrobras in exchange for bribes, which were funnelled it into politicians’ pockets and political-party slush funds.

Grupo Odebrecht, the region’s largest construction conglomerate, is one of those companies, and 77 of its executives have entered into plea deals, agreeing to provide information in exchange for more lenient sentences.

The names on Judge Fachin’s list have come to light as part of that plea bargain.

The executives say they paid so many bribes that they set up a special department to manage the money.

Although the list spans all major parties, the revelations strike a particular blow to President Temer, who came to power after the previous president was impeached for illegally manipulating government accounts.

His chief of staff, Eliseu Padilha, is among those named on the list.

President Temer’s office has not commented on Judge Fachin’s list, but he has vowed to suspend ministers who are charged as a result of the investigations.

The list also names a number of potential presidential candidates for elections in 2018, including Aecio Neves and former foreign minister Jose Serra.

Punch with additional report from BBC