The Presidency has dismissed reports that the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Malam Abba Kyari, used the funds of the Nigeria High Commission in London to pay his medical bills while on medical treatment in London.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, described the report published by an online news medium, as “totally incorrect, misleading and a fabrication”.
He said that 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 for paying his own bills”.
Shehu said: “This is by the Chief of Staff’s choice. He pays for his medicals, his taxi and accommodation in the UK in spite of 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 the fateful 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.”
Shehu maintained that 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) did not possess the UK National Health Insurance.
He said: “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.”
According to the presidential aide, hospital records are available for verification to show that the Nigeria High Commission in London did not spend a penny on Kyari, as its involvement did not go beyond the issuance of the letter of guarantee to the Wellington Hospital.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had also dismissed the report, describing it a blatant falsehood.
Onyeama said: “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 industrialised countries, if you want medical treatment, or hospital room reserved for you, they will require medical insurance of that country.”