Our Correspondent|4 June 2017
…the petition being with EFCC, not my business; my business is you, says minister
The minister of health of Nigeria, Prof. Isaac Adewale is currently after Mr. Obaji Abung-Akpet, the journalist that broke the news of his alleged misappropriation of N1.3b Nigerian Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), even as he brags that neither the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) nor ICPC have called him to question about the said missing funds.
Concerned Enrollees Network, a body whistle blowing against corruption had on a petition with evidences acknowledged to have been received by EFCC and ICPC on the… alleged the Minister of Health to have siphoned a whooping N1.3b for shady use including making personal purchases of two Range Rover cars, buying of a personal home in Abuja, among other things.
The minister said he hired internet experts to help him establish the identity and location of the journalist, and through the help of Prof. Ben Ayade, the governor of Cross River got his contact.
Cross River Commissioner of Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong also was said to have led a negotiation for Mr. Akpet to compromise with the minister on ways forward to quench the smoke the report was already generating.
Although yet unconfirmed, it was learnt that the household of ASO Rock had called the minister to the caution of going to cleaning his mess on-time as anything seen as capable of ruining the Buhari led administration or his public corruption war would not be taken for granted.
Hence, the minister through a lady, who claimed to be Mrs. Oluwatooni Akinola, his information officer via 08033195737 called to get soft landing with the journalist.
But when it was obvious Akpet would not bulge his back the minister threatened saying:
"You're being a journalist abi, are you telling me that you're prepared for whatever comes."
"I'm calling you now 'cause we're in the same profession and I know other people that have gotten into such troubles and that's why I'm calling you is aware."
Beginning the conversation, the Minister's spokesperson said: "I'm Mrs. Akeola and I'm calling you from Ministry of Health."
"I actually decided to step into this matter for a few reasons, but I know that your commissioner (referring to Cross River Commissioner of Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong) has called you and has told you the reasons."
"You published that information about the minister and I hope you know that it is libel."
"Why didn't you confirm your story before you went ahead to publish that lies."
"You don't understand the perspective I'm coming from".
When asked if the minister was aware that the report was based on the petition made against him by Concerned Enrollees Network and not the journalist now being under attack, the minister said "yes, I'm aware the report was based on petition."
Asked if the Minister has responded to EFCC invitation or found time to visit EFCC office to confirm the report, the minister answered in defiance and indication of utter control of every situation "to confirm what!"
"No, no, no; if I contact EFCC what am I going to confirm from them! Whether the allegations are true or not."
Being even more taresly and highhanded on the journalist, "Where did you get the story. You don't work with EFCC or NHIS. You're telling me you got the petition from EFCC or what. I'm asking, did you get it from EFCC."
When politely asked to refer to EFCC and face issues instead of resorting to attack on journalist going about his work, the minister questioned "I have gone to EFCC for what!"
"I don't have to, because EFCC did not contact me, or the minister. I saw it in the media and it was credited to you." she added.
"Why didn't the EFCC send that post, why should it be you, what's your interest."
On how the minister got to know about the journalist before contacting Cross River governor to fish the journalist out, the minister said internet experts were hired to do the job and it was well established that the reporter in question was the first to break the news on corrupt charges on the minister to the tone of N1.3b.
"You're an international newsgather. Internet experts have established that you were the first person that broke the news while every other person that saw it got it from your platform."
"Do you know that I have done my research before contacting you?"
"No, no, that's not my business if the petition is at EFCC or not. My business is that you published a lie against the minister. "
"In responsible journalism, you will find out whether such a thing is true or not. A responsible journalist must write a balanced story. It is left to you to now decide where you belong."
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