Posted by Vanguard on
ELDEST son of President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gbenga, yesterday, expressed regrets over the interview granted Elendu but said it was unauthorised.
LAGOS — ELDEST son of President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gbenga, yesterday, expressed regrets over the interview granted Elendu but said it was unauthorised.
The interview is the cover story of the current edition of The News Magazine.
Gbenga in the publication had called Vice President Atiku Abubakar names, with the Presidency in a swift reaction disowning the comments while the Vice President’s camp described Gbenga as rude and uncultured.
Solicitors to the President’s son, S.O. Ajayi and Co, issued a statement yesterday in Lagos to clarify their client’s position.
They said: “We are the retained Solicitors to Dr. Olugbenga Obasanjo, on whose instructions and behalf we forward this letter to you with regard to the above referred subject matter, which was given a cover story prominence in the current edition of The News Magazine with vol. 26 No. 01 of 16th January 2006. The same story has found huge prominence in many national daily newspapers of today (yesterday) the 9th January 2006.
“Our client got to know about the story late evening yesterday and since then, he is being inundated with several calls from family members, friends, well wishers and associates, both within and outside of Nigeria, expressing concern over the contents of the alleged interview in all its ramifications and circumstances. This story is also attracting deep interest of operators of the electronic media, as it has continued to be used as a regular news item since this morning by some radio stations in Lagos State; both Yoruba and English channels.
“This has caused and continues to shock our client who states unequivocally that he did not grant the reporter, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, any interview as claimed or at all. At no time did Mr. Sowore put questions to our client, which elicited the responses reported in the papers and The News magazine.
“The truth of the matter, according to our brief, was that our client met Mr. Sowore at the Nigerian Seme border sometime in December 2005, assisted Mr. Sowore to resolve some disagreement he had with some law enforcement agencies and gave him a ride to Lagos, a journey that took far less than two hours. Our client informed us that Mr. Sowore requested for an interview, which our client politely but clearly declined to grant.
“Our client informed us further that it was in the course of the journey that Mr. Sowore, our client and one of our client’s cousins who was with them in the vehicle had some private discussions. It is not unusual among Nigerians wherever they are gathered to evince their patriotic views. The contents of the discussions have been largely embellished. Our client denies the widespread political colouration given to the discussion and regrets the dimension that what he sees as a private and essentially health related discussion has taken.
“Our client states that there is no way that he could have uttered such vituperation against people of such high calibre in his father’s government. Our client insists that there were discussions, he insists that the reporter directly requested for an interview but he politely and directly declined the request. It is illegal, and unbecoming of a reporter to turn the favour granted him by our client to what has now scandalised our client. The reporter took advantage of our client’s large heartedness to scoop a story of a disastrous proportion.
“The unsolicited and unauthorised story is deeply regretted by our client and he regrets the embarrassment that this might have caused members of his family.
“We have our client’s instruction to request you to publish this letter as his rejoinder to the alleged interview and also to carry a retraction of the story with apology both to him and his respectable father, Mr. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who has been embarrassed by the alleged false interview.
“It is not our client’s practice to air his grievances publicly or litigate on every wrong done to him and he does not seek to do so on this occasion, hence our demand for a retraction and apology. We trust that this retraction will also receive a front page treatment in your next edition. However, you will understand that if this is not forthcoming, then, our client will have no choice than to take the necessary steps that would preserve our client’s and his family’s reputation and integrity, given the widespread nature of the publication that was packaged and branded in the purported interview that our client did not grant and the unusual circumstances of this case.”
Contacted, Omoyele Sowore of Elendureport who conducted the interview said he had read the solicitor’s letter and would pass his comments to The News Magazine that ran the interview.
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