By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-The Presidency, yesterday, rose in defence of Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff, CoS, to President Muhammadu Buhari, stating that he never used the funds of the Nigeria High Commission in London to pay his medical bills during a recent visit for medical treatment.
Also, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, attested to the innocence of the CoS.
The clarification followed allegations by an online news medium, recently.
Reacting to the report, the presidency which spoke through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement said the allegations were totally incorrect, misleading and a fabrication.
He said: “The Nigeria High Commission in London did not at any time ever settle the medical bills or any other bills for that matter as Abba Kyari personally took responsibility of paying his bills.
“This is by the Chief of Staff’s choice. He pays for his medicals, his taxi and accommodation in the U.K despite the high office he occupies, even when there is no rule that says he cannot be catered for by government.
“For the records, Kyari was rushed out of Nigeria for an emergency medical treatment on December 1, 2016. To receive him on arrival, the Wellington Hospital needed to have cash deposited or in the absence of this, a letter of guarantee.
“In order to meet this condition, the Nigeria High Commission in London wrote the Letter of Guarantee to the hospital for treatment to commence. The role of the High Commission didn’t involve financial commitments on behalf of Kyari.
“The Letter of Guarantee from the High Commission was meant to meet the routine requirements of the Wellington Hospital since the patient in question (Kyari) didn’t possess the UK National Health Insurance.
“Apart from senior government officials, other reputable Nigerians are issued with such guarantee letters to hospitals. A guarantor is not liable unless there is a default, but this wasn’t the case with Abba Kyari who paid all his medical bills by himself as he had done on previous occasions.
“Hospital records are available for verification to show that the Nigeria High Commission in London didn’t spend a penny on Kyari, as its involvement didn’t go beyond the issuance of the letter of guarantee to the Wellington Hospital.”
Foreign minister affirms
Also, fielding questions from State House correspondents shortly after the meeting of Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS team to settle the political quagmire in The Gambia at the presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Onyeama said there was no truth in the report.
He explained that the Commission only stood as guarantor to the CoS in conformity with the standard practice of United Kingdom hospitals.
“Because a lot of people do not bring libel cases against media houses, they think they can write whatever they like.
“The report was a blatant falsehood, really defamatory. As we all know, in most of these industrialized countries, if you want medical treatment or hospital room reserved for you, they will require medical insurance of that country.
“If you do not have, they will require a deposit or a guarantee. Our embassies and High Commissions around the world are there to assist Nigerians.
“All that happened in the case of the Chief of Staff when he went to the U.K. for medical treatment was that before he arrived, the High Commission guaranteed that he will pay his hospital bills and that was all.
“A letter was written to the hospital that this person is a high official and we guarantee that he will settle his bill.
“On that basis, they reserved a hospital room for him and afterwards, he settled his bill. During the time he was in London, he never asked the High Commission to even provide a car for him. He made his arrangements.
“It is extremely unfair that such defamatory article would have come out. It has no iota of truth in it.
“He had never made any contact with the U.K. for the one and a half years he has been in office,” he said.