Mr Festus Keyamo, former Minister of State for Labour and Employment, has responded to the European Union’s (EU) final report on the 2023 elections, which indicted him for allegedly engaging in fake news.
In its report, the EU stated that Keyamo, along with former Aviation Minister Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, peddled false information during the 2023 election campaigns, as both were spokesmen for the then-presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, who is now President.
In response to the report, Keyamo chastised the Union for delving into the investigation, claiming that it was invited for the sole purpose of observing and reporting, while also raising other concerns in criticising the EU.
In a statement titled;
‘My Response to the ‘Fake News’ Assertion by the EU Report’ on Wednesday, the former minister said, “The part of the EU report that asserts that there was a single incident throughout the whole campaign where I retweeted a news item by a ‘suspicious website’ does not deserve my response because it is so presumptuous and outside their mandate and exposes a deep-seated bias about how the so-called observers went about their assignment.
However, for the education of the gullible and unfortunate ones who are jubilating over such a poor report, I will say a word or two.
Firstly, their assignment is to OBSERVE AND REPORT. Their mandate does not extend to INVESTIGATING claims made by candidates against one another and reaching CONCLUSIONS on such claims. They are not journalists nor are they law-enforcement officers.
They are just OBSERVERS. Declaring any news as ‘fake’ when they don’t have alternative facts or findings by institutions statutorily empowered to investigate such claims is tantamount to taking sides on the campaign trail and trying to defend a candidate against another. And that is very disappointing and unfortunate on the part of these observers.
Keyamo, a senior lawyer, also said berated the EU for being biased in questioning the proof of investigation and also decried its audacity in calling a news platform ‘a suspicious website.’
Secondly, even professional journalists, law-courts and law-enforcement agencies, in the course of investigating any allegation, MUST talk to all sides before reaching a conclusion. Where is the evidence that the EU observers talked to those who made these claims and sought to get further clarifications before rushing to write their jejune report?
Thirdly, they said I retweeted a story by ‘a suspicious website’. Pray, what makes a website ‘suspicious’? They did not elaborate. How can foreigners come into a country and declare a local news website as ‘suspicious’ (without more) and just walk away? What arrogance!
The ex-minister continued;
Fourthly and curiously, whilst other local and international journalists had previously reported that ALL THE POLITICAL PARTIES tried to outdo themselves by pushing out some false stories, the EU report just singled out the APC. So, were they blind to the antics of the other parties?
For instance, was there a single mention of tons of false reports by the PDP and LP that our candidate BOLA AHMED TINUBU (who is now President) was evacuated abroad for urgent medical attention at various moments during the campaign when there was no scintilla of evidence to back that up? Is that not ‘fake news’?
Overall, the EU report is nothing but a reflection of a one-sided narrative. And I congratulate the Opposition on working closely with the EU and carting away the all-important prize of the EU Final Report. For us, we shall make do with the consolation prize of the ACTUAL WINNER OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2023.