Provide Evidence of Fraud against Palliative Committee, Presidency Tells Ndume

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Garba-Shehu

Omololu Ogunmade

The presidency Thursday in Abuja challenged Senator Ali Ndume to provide proofs of fraud in the distribution of relief items by the palliatives’ committee.

Ndume, had at a press conference in his Maiduguri home on Wednesday, called for the disbandment of the committee led by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Ms Sadiya Farouq, over its alleged unfair and fraudulent distribution of palliatives to the target audience across the country.

The senator, who said his accusation was predicated on facts, said he was surprised that with the large condemnation of the committee’s fraudulent activities by Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari still failed to disband the committee during his Monday’s national broadcast.

He therefore advised the president to disband the committee now if he still cared to salvage what was left of his reputation.

But in a swift reaction to the allegations, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, challenged Ndume to back his allegations with facts or stop mere “innuendos.”

According to Shehu, since his advent as president in 2015, Buhari has left no one in doubt that his aides must share his commitment to serve dispassionately.

He also argued that some of his aides found culpable in suspicious acts in the past had been sacked, insisting that the president would not move against any of his aides without proven acts of misdemeanor.

Describing Ndume’s decision to make allegations without proofs as disappointing, Shehu insisted that the senator must name those he found perpetrating such fraud backed with facts.

“When he was first elected President in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari said that he belonged to everybody and belonged to nobody. What was true then remains true today.

“He believes in public service, as a servant of the people – and he expects the exact same commitment from members of his government and, of course, his closest aides.

“The president has made it clear times without number that anyone who will not, cannot, or does not pull his weight – nor meet these exacting standards – is not welcome in his administration.

“A number of ranking officials have been shown the way out at various times simply on account of this.

‘Similarly, he believes in loyalty and truthfulness. Should any individuals be found to be serving themselves and not the people, then it is right and proper to call them out.

“But this must be done on the basis of evidence and proof – not on conjecture.

“It is therefore disappointing to hear a politician call out unnamed individuals in the administration and accuse them of unnamed transgressions.

“If this politician has evidence – then he should make public their identities as well as his proof. Innuendo is not proof.

“Similarly, simply claiming that the COVID-19 Palliative Measures Committee is not functioning as it should is not the same as presenting proof for such a claim,” he said.

The presidential spokesman also argued that there is nowhere a body is replaced during a pandemic without incontrovertible acts of wrongdoing.

Describing Ndume as a discontented politician, Shehu said at such a challenging time like this, all that is required is the cooperation of all and not a “political capital” from anyone.

“No one replaces an institutional government body in the midst of the global pandemic without clear and irrefutable evidence that it needs replacing.

“A press briefing from a discontented politician is rarely the source of such evidence.

“At this difficult time of the battle by Nigeria against coronavirus, everyone should help the fight and not seek to make political capital out of it, whatever his or her grievances,” he added.