The All Progressives Congress Campaign Council, on Tuesday morning, denied issuing a statement of apology to a former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, over the use of his photograph in a documentary on the party’s presidential flagbearer, Bola Tinubu.
The viral apology, which hit the online portals and social media platforms on Monday evening, sparked reactions, with some critics accusing the APC candidate of admitting to fraud.
The statement allegedly credited to the PCC Director of Media and Publicity, Bayo Onanuga, exonerated the campaign council of blame, while admitting that the mix-up of Duke’s picture with Young Tinubu was a “honest mistake”.
It read, “We have taken note of the video in circulation where former Rivers State Governor, Mr. Donald Duke, said his picture as a 12-year old boy and student of the Federal Government Secondary School in Sokoto was used in a documentary to celebrate Asíwájú Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“Our investigation further revealed that the picture in question has also surfaced in some of our campaign materials, on websites and Twitter accounts of Asíwájú supporters, along with a similar photo of besuited Asíwájú donning an Afrohair popular in the 70s and 80s.
“No one, and not even Asiwaju’s personal photographers and the artists who designed the materials, have been able to explain how the photo was mixed up with the other photo, that represents Asíwájú’s teenage years. They all said they got both photographs in Google search.
“We have called Governor Donald Duke to apologise for the unintentional mix-up and the error. The usage was a honest mistake for which all involved have accepted responsibility.
“We want to make it abundantly clear that Asíwájú Tinubu did not authorise the appropriation of another person’s image as his own.
“We also want to absolve the presidential campaign council of any blame.
“To the traducers, who have been attacking Asíwájú Tinubu for what he knew nothing about, we want to appeal to them to be reasonable over this matter.
“We are in a campaign season where many supporters go out of their ways to produce jingles, documentaries, posters, billboard materials and other promotional materials without the approval of candidates across political parties. The campaign council has in the meantime established a process for clearance and approval by individuals and support groups who seek to produce campaign materials for media use.”
But hours after it went viral, the camp of the APC presidential candidate dismissed the apology, which it labelled as “fake”.
In a statement signed by Onanuga, the campaign council said there was no iota of truth in the viral report.
Onanuga stated that no member of the Tinubu campaign media directorate authorised the said apology on behalf of the former Lagos State governor.
He said, “Our attention has been drawn to a press statement currently in circulation credited to the Director of Media and Publicity, Mr. Bayo Onanuga.
“In the said statement, Mr. Onanuga was reported to have apologised to Mr. Donald Duke for an error in the use of his picture in a documentary on Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“We want to categorically state that the Directorate of Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Council did not authorise the said statement and Mr. Onanuga didn’t issue any statement on behalf of the campaign council and our principal, Asiwaju Tinubu today.
“We urge the media and members of the public to disregard the statement as a fake news designed to create confusion and mislead the public.”