Abuja – Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan threatened legal action on Thursday against a website that listed him as Africa’s sixth richest head of state with a net of about $100m.
The article on richestlifestyle.com provided little evidence to substantiate its list of Africa’s eight richest presidents. The richest president according to the list is Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the President of Angola with assets in excess of $20bn. The second richest is Mohammed VI, the current King of Morocco with a distant $2.5bn according to Forbes.
But the claims about Jonathan, who has led Africa’s top oil producer since 2010, made front page news in several Nigerian newspapers on Thursday.
Jonathan’s inclusion in the article was “baseless and libellous”, his office said in a statement.
“President Jonathan has never been a businessman or entrepreneur,” it added.
“The clear and unacceptable imputation of the claim that President Jonathan is now worth about $100m is that the president has corruptly enriched himself while in office which is certainly not the case,” it said.
Retraction and apology
Jonathan’s office demanded “a retraction and an unreserved apology from Richest Lifestyle.com and all those who have reproduced the offensive article,” and threatened action “in courts of law within and outside Nigeria.”
While there was no retraction or apology on the site, the item concerning Jonathan has been removed.
Emails to the contact address for richestlifestyle.com were not delivering on Thursday and the site’s managers were not available to comment on either the research supporting the article or why the Jonathan item had been removed, but the link to the source remains in place.
The presidency’s swift response to the previously obscure website’s claims highlights the sensitivity of corruption as a political issue in Nigeria.
The country’s vast oil wealth has for decades been squandered by the ruling elite and Jonathan has sought to portray his administration as a departure from the corrupt regimes of the past, even if many experts say graft has hit record high levels.
Jonathan is in the coming weeks expected to announce his re-election bid for February polls and Nigeria’s main opposition has already signalled that it intends to make corruption a key issue in the campaign.
FOLLOW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS AND RESOURCES ON FACEBOOK @ New Africa Business News.com