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Nigeria’s President Threatens to Sue Trashy Jersey Website

On Wednesday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan threatened to sue a website for suggesting that he has amassed $100 million in assets while in office. Jonathan’s threat wasn’t aimed at anti-corruption activists or an opposition newspaper. No, the president of Africa’s most populous country took legal aim at richestlifestyle.com, a New Jersey-based website for the envious ...

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan threatened to sue a website for suggesting that he has amassed $100 million in assets while in office. Jonathan’s threat wasn’t aimed at anti-corruption activists or an opposition newspaper. No, the president of Africa’s most populous country took legal aim at richestlifestyle.com, a New Jersey-based website for the envious populated with listicles such as "Top Five Concept Trucks" and "Richest People in Latvia, 2014." Richest Lifestyle had made the apparent mistake of including Jonathan — who has long battled allegations of corruption — in its countdown of "Richest African Presidents, 2014."

Jonathan’s office came out swinging. "We have noted with consternation the listing of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan," an advisor wrote in a statement, "by a website — RichestLifestyle.com — as the sixth-richest African President with an estimated net worth of $100 Million U.S. Dollars." The advisor described that figure as "another attempt to unjustifiably portray the president as a corrupt leader and incite public disaffection." Jonathan, the statement went on, "has had no personal income since 1999 other than his official remuneration." That might be hard to believe, but here’s the kicker — Jonathan’s office threatened to sue:

"We therefore demand a retraction and an unreserved apology from RichestLifestyle.com and all those who have reproduced the offensive article. Otherwise, they should be prepared to substantiate their libelous claims against the President in courts of law within and outside Nigeria."

The threat worked. As of Thursday, Richest Lifestyle’s ranking is still available, but the sixth slot, formerly Jonathan’s, is empty. All that’s left is a deflection of blame to the article’s original source, a website called celebritynetworth.com (motto: What’s Your Favorite Star Got In The Bank?).

Jonathan’s skittish response shows just how eager he is to distance himself from charges of wrongdoing ahead of a likely February re-election bid. His administration has had a rough year: It’s been slammed for its mismanagement of the Chibok kidnappings, for passing a stringent anti-gay law, and for alleged large-scale corruption. And that’s just the start. Consider Richest Lifestyle’s list a gilded last straw — blown with a presidential puff to the trash heap of the Internet.  

 Twitter: @s__engler
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