Fact Check: Did Buhari truly secretly appoint Bashir Ahmad as manager at DPR?

Fact Check: Did Buhari truly secretly appoint Bashir Ahmad as manager at DPR?

An online news media claimed in a report that President Buhari has given Bashir Ahmad, one of his media aides, a new appointment at the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

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Verdict:

There is no evidence to back up this claim. The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Bashir Ahmad have both denied the alleged appointment.

No evidence President Buhari truly appoint Bashir Ahmad as manager at DPR

There is no open evidence to back up the claim that President Buhari appointed Bashir Ahmad, his media aide, as a manager at the DPR. Photo credit: Bashir Ahmad
Source: Facebook

Full Text

On Monday, February 15, an online news media, Peoples Gazette, reported that President Muhammadu Buhari has "quietly" appointed "Bashir Ahmad manager of lucrative petroleum ministry department".

The news media further claimed that Ahmad was appointed "to supervise a powerful and lucrative division at the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR)."

It added that the role "supersedes his (Ahmad's) work experience and area of expertise, citing anonymous "officials familiar with the development".

Specifically citing four unnamed "four officials at the presidency and DPR", the news media alleged that Ahmad "hustled his way in as the head of the newly-established National Production Monitoring System (NPMS) of DPR – Nigeria’s preeminent oil and gas sector regulator".

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Peoples Gazette added that Ahmad and a spokesman for the DPR did not return its calls and text messages seeking comments on the alleged appointment.

Ahmad is President Buhari's Personal Assistant on New Media, according to his Twitter bio.

I am not a staff of the DPR - Ahmad reacts

Following the publication of the report on Monday, February 15, a Twitter user and APC member, Gbenga 'Gold' Olorunpomi (@GbengaGOLD), tweeted, at 9.03am, that he will believe the story until the Presidency publicly denies it.

Olorunpomi tweeted:

"Until the Presidency come out to publicly deny this, I will assume it is 100% true. And, I am completely and utterly ashamed that, again, this administration is showing the country and the party complete disrespect. The Bashir I know is grossly unqualified for this job. Rubbish!"

Shortly after, Ahmad took to Twitter to deny the alleged appointment.

He tweeted at 10.05am on Monday:

Buhari's aide Bashir Ahmad clears air on being "secretly appointed" manager at petroleum ministry
"A friend sent me a link to a concocted story from an online news blog that the President has quietly appointed me as a manager of the DPR, a department of Ministry of Petroleum Resources, for those who want to know the truth, the story is 100% FALSE. I am not a staff of the DPR."

At 10.25am also on Monday, Ahmad directly replied to Olorunpomi on Twitter, reiterating that "the story is 100% NOT true".

He tweeted:

"Calm down brother Gbenga, the story is 100% NOT true. To tell you the truth, I don’t even know where DPR office is, the only thing I know it is in Lagos. That’s all."

News media challenged to provide proof

Following Ahmad's denial, A popular Twitter user, Nedu Ekeke (@Nedunaija) and many other tweeps asked the news media to provide evidence for its report.

Ekeke tweeted at the news media:

"Ahmaad denies. Please do the needful."
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Alleged appointment letter released

On Tuesday, February 16, the news media responded by publishing the alleged appointment letter issued to Ahmad.

Following this development, Legit.ng sent an email to Paul Osu, the head of Public Affairs Department at the DPR for comments on the purported appointment letter.

A few hours later, Mr Osu replied to the mail and directed Legit.ng to a statement he had just issued over the alleged appointment letter.

DPR says alleged appointment letter is fake

In the statement, the DPR described the alleged appointment letter as "a fake letter of appointment circulating on social media".

The statement reads in part:

"This is the handiwork of some mischief makers hiding behind the veil of social media to spread fake news and mislead the public.
"We hereby advise members of the public to disregard the purported letter in its entirety as it is not from DPR.
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"We wish to reiterate that employment into the Department is carried out in accordance with extant rules guiding such exercises in the Nigerian Public Service in line with due process."

Ahmad, others react to alleged appointment letter

Though Ahmad has not directly issued a response to the alleged appointment letter, he has retweeted some tweets claiming the letter is fake.

One of such tweets is by Tolu Ogunlesi, Special Assistant to President Buhari on Digital and New Media, and Ahmad's colleague at the presidency.

Ogunlesi described the letter as "One of the worst, most embarrassing forgeries ever created".

The presidential aide, and some other tweeps, also picked some alleged holes in the letter, alleging that it is forged.

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Conclusion

Peoples Gazette's report on the alleged appointment is entirely based on anonymous sources which cannot be subjected to open verification.

The authenticity of the alleged appointment letter it published as evidence has also been questioned.

With the DPR's official reaction dismissing the alleged appointment letter and describing it as fake, and Ahmad's open denial, there is no open evidence to back up the claim by the news media.

Moreso, Ahmad still remains a personal assistant to the president, at the time of filing this piece.

Nevertheless, what can put the matter to rest finally is if the accused parties pursue litigation, especially regarding the alleged forged appointment letter, since forgery is a criminal offence.

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Nurudeen Lawal is a Legit.ng journalist passionate about fact-checking/verification journalism. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature-in-English from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. As Politics Editor, Nurudeen mostly writes on Nigeria’s political and socio-economic developments. He has attended different workshops, conferences and training on fact-checking and digital reporting, among others. Learn more about him on Twitter, @Nurudeen Lawal_

Source: Legit

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