A human rights group, Nigerians For Justice (NFJ), has dismissed what it calls an “obvious sponsored inquest” against the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 elections, Mr. Peter Obi.
The group in a statement on Monday in Asaba, Delta State capital, said that the media report on Obi on alleged shady business deals tried to create a wrong impression about him.
The statement signed by NFJ’s Chairman, Mr. Francis Ezeoka, accused the news out of bad faith and of doing a hatchet job “lacking in substance” and “purity of motive.”
The statement linked the report to desperate political forces afraid of Obi’s rising political profile ahead of the 2023 elections.
It said that the media outfit betrayed its motive right from its opening paragraph where, without even the benefit of the said reports, it started passing judgement, thus betraying the fact that they were on a sponsored mission targeted at tarnishing Obi’s reputation.
NFJ, which described Nigerians as very intelligent and discerning people, said it was confident that they would ask the news medium the ultimate questions: “Did you trace any missing government money to any company Obi has real or imaginary interest? Is any public money missing in any public establishment Obi has had contact with, such as Anambra State, Security and Exchange Commission?”
The group also wondered the nexus between Obi’s numerous speeches the report referred to and the actual issue the newspaper pretended to be investigating.
Dismissing the report as falling short of expectations by trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, NFJ said: “There is nothing in (the) investigations or report that impeaches Obi’s integrity. It provides no proof of corruption by Obi but merely alleges failure to declare his foreign assets.
“To prove that he has nothing to hide, we learnt that Obi made himself available to (the news outfit) and honestly answered all their questions. Apparently disappointed that they could not establish a case of corruption against him, the newspaper resorted to editorialising and playing the prosecutor, contrary to the journalism tenet of fair reporting.”
“We know many fantastically corrupt Nigerians and the property they acquired while in government, as well as how they stole the money of their states and ended up plunging their states into debt and yet (the news outfit) did not consider them objects of investigations,” NPF further said.
It advised the public to disregard the sponsored report, assuring that fighting corruption is good, but must be differentiated from witch-hunting.