Chris Steven, Abuja
The Presidency has denied reports credited to an online medium that the Nigeria High Commission in London footed the medical bills of the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity,Garba Shehu denied the allegations on Monday claiming that the Nigeria High Commission in London only wrote a Letter of Guarantee to the Wellington hospital for Kyari’s treatment to commence as was the norm in the United Kingdom.
He said at no time did the role of the High Commission involve financial commitments on behalf of Kyari as was alleged in the report.
Shehu said Kyari who was rushed out of the country on December 1, 2016 on health grounds has been responsible for his medical bills,including other logistics even though he was entitled to such care from the Nigerian government.
The SSA to the President in debunking the allegations,said, “the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, did not use the funds of the Nigeria High Commission in London to pay his medical bills during his recent visit for emergency medical treatment”.
He said contrary to the defamatory report,hospital records were available for verification to show that the Nigeria High Commission in London didn’t spend a penny on Kyari, noting that its involvement didn’t go beyond the issuance of the letter of guarantee to the Wellington Hospital.
“The allegations contained in a report published by an online news medium, are totally incorrect, misleading and a fabrication.
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.
This is by the Chief of Staff’s choice. He pays for his medicals, his taxi and accommodation in the U.K 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 1st, 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,”the President’s spokesman said.
Meanwhile,Minister of Foreign Affairs,Geoffrey Onyeama in a reaction to the same report,took a swipe on the media,especially for peddling unsubstantiated information in public domain.
“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 have or 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,that was 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,”the Foreign Affairs Minister added.