President Jonathan Threatens Lawsuit, Refutes Report He Is Worth $100m
President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday threatened to sue RichestLifestyle.com and other unnamed publishers at home and abroad for naming him among Africa’s 10 richest leaders just after a few years in charge.
“We categorically assert that there is no factual basis for ranking President Jonathan as the sixth richest African Head of State with a net worth of about $100 Million U.S. Dollars,” spokesman Reuben Abati said in a press statement.
He dismissed the inclusion of President Jonathan in “Africa’s Richest Presidents 2014” as yet another attempt to portray Nigeria’s leader, who seeks re-election in just a few months, as a corrupt leader and thereby incite public disaffection against him.
“We therefore demand a retraction and an unreserved apology from Richest Lifestyle.com and all those who have reproduced the offensive article,” the statement said.
“Otherwise, they should be prepared to substantiate their libelous claims against the President in courts of law within and outside Nigeria.”
The statement recalled that Mr. Jonathan has never been a businessman or entrepreneur, but a life-long public servant, adding that he has held public office since 1999 and regularly declared his assets as required by Nigerian laws. It further said that Mr. Jonathan has had no personal income since 1999 other than his official remuneration as deputy governor, governor, vice president, acting president and president which are matters of public record.
“There has been no significant variation in the totality of his personal assets as contained in his last declaration to the Nigerian Code of Conduct Bureau in 2011 which, as can be verified, was a very, very far cry from the $100 million figure now being bandied about by Richest Lifestyle.com and other irresponsible, copy-cat publications.
“The clear and unacceptable imputation of the claim that President Jonathan is now worth about $100 Million is that the President has corruptly enriched himself while in office which is certainly not the case.”
“Richest Lifestyle.com” did not indicate how it came about the figures, or whether it feels threatened by the Nigerian leader’s ultimatum.
“Some of the above-mentioned Presidents’ exact wealth and source of wealth are unknown that’s why they cannot be included in the Forbes Africa’s Rich List,” it said in a poorly-written comment below the article, adding in a damning verdict that seems to have got under Mr. Jonathan’s skin, “They steal from their own people.”
In the Nigeria leader’s citation in the list, the website recorded of him, “He launched a “Roadmap for Power Sector Reform”, launched the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria and launched the Transformation Agenda. He is a member of the ruling “People Democratic Party”.
Although Mr. Jonathan occasionally preaches accountability, he has since assuming office in 2011 refused to declare his assets publicly.