By Polycarp Auta/Jos
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has denied visiting Senator David Jonah Jang, in Jos Prison, but the News Agency of Nigeria is not recanting the story of the visit.
The denial of the visit by both the Atiku Media Office and Luka Ayedoo, the PRO of Jos Prison, followed a report by the News Agency of Nigeria that the former vice-president and a leading figure in the Peoples Democratic Party visited the prison to cheer up Jang, being detained on the orders of the Plateau High Court, following his trial for fraud and money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Apart from Atiku, other notable politicians, who came for the solidarity visit, included Professor Jerry Gana, some senators and Chief Chris Giwa, who is fighting a protracted legal battle to become the President of the Nigerian Football Federation.
Our reporter first got information about the visit from the Publicity secretary of Plateau State PDP, John Akans, and, in the tradition of the agency, called Ayedoo to confirm the visits by PDP bigwigs.
Ayedoo was in Lafia at the time of the interview and confirmed everything the reporter wrote.
Ayedoo recanted his confirmation of Atiku’s visit on Monday, when news of the visit had gone viral. He did not deny the visits by Jerry Gana and others.
He wrote: “The Service’s attention has been drawn to a section of media report confirming the visit of His Excellency Atiku Abubakar to the former Governor of Plateau State, Jonah David Jang in Jos Prison. That report is fictitious and brewed from fallacies.
“The Command has not in any away confirmed such visit to any media house. Hence, such section of the report should be shed, as it is aimed at misleading the public”, said Ayedoo, who is a deputy Superintendent of Prisons.
NAN called Ayedoo on Tuesday evening to ask him if he did not speak to our reporter and if he was not responsible for the copious quotes as published by the agency.
His response was that ‘he does not have a problem with the report’, only the aspect that concerns ‘Atiku’.
Our reporter, however, insisted that Ayedoo confirmed the report in its entirety, when he spoke with him and there was no disclaimer by Ayedoo earlier on Tuesday, when he spoke again with our reporter.
In this circumstance, NAN stands by the story as sent by its reporter.
Justice Daniel Longji of the Plateau High Court had on May 16 ordered that the Senator representing Plateau North in the National Assembly be remanded in prison after refusing him bail.
The court made the decision after it denied an application by Mr Jang’s counsel, Robert Clarke, following an objection by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob.
Jang is facing a 12-count charge of diverting N6.3 billion alongside a former cashier in the office of the Secretary to the State Government, Yusuf Pam. They were alleged to have committed the offence while Mr Jang was governor of the state.
Ayedoo said: “at the weekend, we received Prof. Jerry Gana, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, senators and other notable Nigerians who came on solidarity visit to Sen. Jonah Jang.
“Even though Jang is in prison custody, he still reserves the right to be visited and so we won’t deny him that right,” he said.
The PRO, however, said restrictions were placed on the calibre of people to visit the former governor so as not to turn the prison yard into a political arena.
“Those we give express permission to see him are few political allies, family members, his doctor and his lawyer, “he said. (NAN).
The Atiku Media Office in its reaction said it was not true that Atiku visited Jang in Jos.
“That report, as it relates to the former Vice President, is in its entirety false and mere fabrication”, the Media Office stated..
“For the avoidance of doubt, Atiku Abubakar has been in Yola, Adamawa State since Thursday for the activities of the 10th Commencement Ceremony and Presidential Inauguration of American University of Nigeria, Yola.
“The Waziri Adamawa on Thursday attended the Honours Society event of the university.
“On Friday, Atiku Abubakar joined the Yola Ummah at the first Juma’at prayer of this year’s Ramadan at the Yola Central Mosque and later graced the Graduation Awards Ceremony of AUN.
“On Saturday, Atiku Abubakar attended the 10th graduation ceremony of AUN which was widely reported in the media.
“The former Vice President arrived in Yola International Airport in the morning of Thursday, 17th May and still remains in Yola till today.
“Therefore, he was not, and could not have been in Jos as being claimed in a section of the media”..