Nigeria leader, President Goodluck Jonathan, has threatened to take SaharaReporters to court for reporting that his health problems in London during the week may have resulted from heavy partying in celebration of his 56th birthday.
In a statement by his spokesman, Reuben Abati, the president condemned what he called the “utterly irresponsible, deplorable, highly unprofessional and unethical antics of certain fringe elements operating in the nebulous sphere of cyberspace who persist in seizing every opportunity to unjustifiably malign and impugn the character and integrity of the elected leader of their country.”
He said it was regrettable that while the public had been duly informed that Mr. Jonathan had received precautionary medical attention for an unexpected indisposition in London in compliance with the leader’s standing instruction that Nigerians must never be kept in the dark about the state of his health, SaharaReporters and other reckless, lawless, impudent and unpatriotic internet-based ignored the official script “with their entirely fictional, malicious, hate-driven and scurrilous distortion of the facts.”
Reiterating the denial of a party in London to celebrate President Jonathan's birthday on Wednesday night, Abati said the president upon arrival spent the day in the privacy of his hotel room and that it has never been his custom to celebrate birthday anniversaries. In particular, there was certainly no drinking spree, he claimed.
“As unregulated as they are, SaharaReporters and their ilk are not beyond the bounds of legal action for libel and willful defamation of the character and reputation of a President who has courageously stepped forward to serve his country,” the statement threatened.
“They know very well that they can never substantiate or prove the constant false allegations and innuendoes they publish for the sole purpose of negatively portraying President Jonathan and his administration.
“Their incessant claim of a bibulous President is pure fiction and blackmail, and the product of malicious imagination. We warn that our forbearance of their disrespectful caricaturing of the President is not limitless.”
Despite Mr. Jonathan’s threats and deployment of scare tactics, SaharaReporters stands by its account of the events in London in the past few days.
While we have the attention of the president and the hawks in the presidency, we take this opportunity to draw their attention to the scandalous quality of Nigerian governance that SaharaReporters and most of the Nigerian media have been reporting for many years, of which his government forms only a part.
As the 2015 election approaches and Mr. Jonathan tries to invite the sympathy of Nigerians in his favor, we challenge him to prove— including in a court of law—that these reports have been “entirely fictional, malicious, hate-driven and scurrilous distortion of the facts.”