A group known as Integrity Youth Forum, is uncovering a plot by the publisher of Desert Herald Newspaper, Tukur Mamu, to blackmail the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, it has said.
The IYF National Coordinator, Kelvin Adegbenga, in a statement, Tuesday, accused Mr. Mamu of approaching the Minister to demand for a plot of land or N15 million cash, failure of which he will publish details of the minister's corrupt dealings in a book to be launched soon, titled "FCT Administration: The rot within".
Mr. Adegbenga claimed the minister's aides 'played along' with Mr. Mamu in order to 'expose' his dirty dealings.
"The Minister's resolve not to give bribe to the Desert Herald Publisher emboldened his aides to play along with Alhaji Tukur who naively and myopically came out in his true colours as an undisguised blackmailer and extortionist.
Overnight, the same man who claimed to have written a 284-page book detailing rot in the FCT started asking for allocation of land in Abuja and payment of N15 million as a condition for him not to publish the book," he said.
The IYF coordinator said that, it is "highly condemnable and despicable" of Mr. Mamu and his medium to blackmail the transformation agenda of the FCT Administration. He asked the FCT administration to not be deterred by such "infamous campaign of calumny emanating from undesirable elements".
"In view of the foregoing, we wish to state that the contents of the yet to be published 'FCT Administration: The rot within' is adulterated, mischievous and jumbled up by Mamu and his allies to satisfy their chronic but diabolic interest. Therefore, we urge Nigerians and the good people of FCT to ignore the advertorial of the books "FCT Administration: the rot within" yet to be published by Fuza Communication Services Limited," he added.
Where is your proof?
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr. Mamu via telephone on Tuesday evening for his own side of the story. He flatly denied asking for land or money from the Minister.
"Where is the proof that I asked for land or money. I challenge them to produce it," he said.
Speaking further Mr. Mamu said he will go ahead and publish his book, adding that "they are free to challenge the facts we have provided in the book."
"In any case, what are they afraid of, the minister is a public servant and should not exercise any fear over his actions being publicised," he said.
Meanwhile, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Abuja Minister, Bala Mohammed, has threatened to sue Mr. Mamu for defamation of character and will ask for N5 billion damages from the Kaduna based Desert Herald newspaper and its publisher, Tukur Mamu.
The Director of Treasury of the FCT Administration, Ibrahim Bomai, has also reportedly threatened to institute a two billion naira suit against Mr. Mamu for the same offence of defamation and libel.
The notice of the impending legal action was served on the defendant on Tuesday by the counsel to the Abuja Minister, Joe Gadzama and associates.
In the notice, Mr. Mohammed demanded for an apology and a retraction of the offending newspaper stories and publication by Mr. Mamu within seven days from the date of receipt of the notice failing which he would be left with no option than to institute full legal action against him and his newspaper, the Desert Herald.
"We demand that within seven (7) days of the receipt of this letter, you cause a bold retraction to be published in two (2) national dailies including the Desert Herald weekly Newspaper as well as two (2) other popular online media platforms a letter of apology addressed to our client and copy to our humble selves," Mr. Gadzama wrote in the notice.