The vindication of Ambassador Buratai
By Best Agbese
Just when one thinks that Sahara Reporters is in the process of finding its way to the path of redemption, it comes out to reassert itself as a hate-spewing platform that is committed to reporting Nigeria into destruction by targeting public office holders and attempting to tarnish their image. This is why it is no surprise that Sahara Reporters’ obsession with retired Ambassador Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s Envoy to the Republic of Benin, is one that defies solutions.
The junk online publication’s latest installment in its bash-Buratai obsession was sensationally captioned “EXCLUSIVE: Anti-graft Agency, ICPC Uncovers Billions In Cash Meant For Arms, Ammunition To Fight Boko Haram In Abuja Home Of Ex-Chief Of Army Staff, Buratai.”
Tragically, the piece reads like something mashed together by an amateur fake news purveyor, which means it discredited Sahara Reporters’ credential as Nigeria’s leading platform for sensational fake news by the very fact that the premises on which it wants unsuspecting readers to believe that the sterling general was a thief are tenuous.
For a start, the chances are slim to nonexistent that the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) would investigate and find alleged whooping N1.85 billion from any public office holder and not rush to the press to announce its breakthrough. Its sister organization, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently made headlines with arrests relating to thefts of twelve digits sums by public office holders. The natural inter-agencies rivalry would have made the ICPC make a show of its success and it would not defer this responsibility to nameless “multiple sources” for a breakthrough of such magnitude if it were true.
Also, what are the chances that a former Chief of Army Staff would leave such a huge amount of hard cash in a residence and office without posting military guards, which he is entitled to, at the residence or office? Such military guards would have ended up having some sort of confrontation with any invading team, which would have created drama and resulted in sensational and viral multimedia content that would have been more credible than the hogwash delivered by Sahara Reporters.
It is remarkable that “SaharaReporters gathered that the huge cash was part of the billions of naira earmarked for the purchase of arms and ammunition by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government.” Just that Sahara Reporters failed to prove how the theft or loss of this “huge cash” was not flagged by any investigation, audit, or probe that has taken place since Ambassador Buratai left office as Chief of Army Staff and subsequently appointed an envoy.
Comically, Sahara Reporters has another source claiming that there is pressure to report the supposedly recovered money as N30 million. This leaves one wondering if it is possible for any Nigerian to waive N1.8 billion simply because anti-graft agencies discovered the money. Those behind this story are shallow minded and confused to the point of forgetting that even N30 million in cash is already a violation of the Money Laundry Act and as such, admitting to a lesser amount does not in any way mitigate that a crime has been committed. The man they are trying to nail is not known to be irresponsible and could not have willfully violated extant legislation.
Even more nauseating than the attempt to lie about the phantom N1.85 billion is the fraudulent attempt to resurrect malicious lies that had previously been laid to rest. The story revived spurious claims about Buratai and his family owning property in Dubai. Unfortunately for Sahara Reporters, these were manipulated contents that failed in the past simply because Buratai was open about these assets even before detractors tried using them against him. He was also open about the sources of the funds he used to acquire the Dubai property and others. As expected, Sahara Reporters, maybe owing to the mental limitations of those running it, find it difficult to believe that there is money to be made from owning and running a snake farm like Buratai does. But to jump-start their brain, they should refer to an article in ThisDay Newspaper two years ago, “Harnessing Snake Farming as an Antidote.”
That article reported that “Countries like China, Thailand and the US have the largest number of snake farms in the world and snake farm owners can earn as much as $12m (N4,560,000,000) per year.” It is time that Sahara Reporters gives serious thoughts to doing actual research so that it can start believing that people can legitimately earn income, huge income from non-mainstream businesses, like snake farming, which being farming the Constitution allows Ambassador Buratai to engage in even as a public office holder.
However, in this matter, beyond ignorance, Sahara Reporters is equally running errands for certain criminals in the corridors of power. They are dead scared of Buratai for reasons best known to them. These persons have made it a duty to denigrate him on quarterly bases using the same Sahara Reporters. Even if they think they have genuine reasons to hound an upright man in the manner they are doing, to the extent that they are undermining the image of the country, they will all perish in the inferno of the bonfire they lit to roast Buratai because of their blind hatred for an innocent man.
For now, the point is that there was no N1.85 billion found anywhere or linked to Ambassador TY Buratai. If such exists then those whom Sahara Reporters serves with its malicious lies should pressure the ICPC to formally publish the findings, which would never happen because the entire thing is a hoax in the fashion of the destructive publication that Sahara Reporters is.
Agbese is scholar based in Scotland, The United Kingdom.