Bola Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has denied ever apologising to Bode George, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for allegedly influencing his imprisonment back in 2009.
George bagged 30 months jail term for contract splitting and inflation during his tenure as chairman of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA).
He had never hesitated to claim innocence, describing his trial as unjust.
However, in an interview with Punch Newspaper, the PDP stalwart claimed that Tinubu had apologised to him for contributing to his travails and that both of them have been greeting one another whenever they met in public.
“He thought I hated him so much and convolutedly conspired to use a judge to put me in prison,” George had said.
“We later met at the Adamasingba stadium Ibadan, at the burial of my good friend, Alao Arisekola. The governor of Oyo state, Abiola Ajimobi, who is a younger brother of mine, sprang up and said, ‘Why are you and Tinubu not greeting each other?’ and I said Bola is on a different planet from mine. Oba Otudeko was also there and he said, ‘Today at the burial of our mutual friend, Arisekola, we should end our hostility’ and I told them that he was involved in the conspiracy to lock me up. They called Bola, he shook my hand and said he was sorry. It was in public. Since then, if we meet in public, we greet each other but our concepts of politics are different.”
But in a statement issued by his media office on Tuesday, Tinubu’s account of the encounter with George contradicted that of the former NPA chairman.
“On that date, personalities such as Oba Otudeko and Governor Ajimobi approached me because I did not greet Mr. George initially,” he said.
“They pleaded that, in the memory of the man we were all gathered to honour, I should greet Mr. George. At their request, I turned back and came to greet him by saying ‘Good Afternoon Egbon’. That was all.
“If Mr. George wishes to interpret that as an apology, he has the right to do so. I also have the right to state categorically that no apology was made or even intended.”
Tinubu further mocked George, saying it was wrong for him to be claiming that he was wrongly imprisoned.
“From my recollection, Mr. George was found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction based on convincing evidence of wrongdoing. He insults the judiciary by implying that his conviction was wrongly derived,” he said.
“He was charged by the government ruled by his own party for an offence concerning financial irregularities at the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, an appointment he received from that same government. It is an incredible tale indeed to state that somehow I could direct a party that tried to dismantle the progressive political structure of my party to bring down one of its key members.
“The more plausible explanation for his legal tribulation was that a member of his own cabal blew the whistle on Mr. George’s antics for reasons that only he and that person truly know. In the end, it was Mr. George’s own hand and actions that led to his incarceration more than anything I could ever have done.
“I think he is trying to find a way to walk back from his election hyperbole that he would go on exile if the APC won the Lagos state governorship election. He realizes that Lagos under the APC is a very good place to live after all. If he wants to remain in Lagos, he does not have to manufacture an excuse or explain away his bad words. Neither the APC nor I have any aims against him.
“In the election, the people rejected his party and his brand of politics. That is enough for us. We move on to greater progress. We have no time or inclination to trouble ourselves by troubling Bode George. Any trouble he is experiencing is a product of his own mind.”