Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has asked Vanguard Newspapers to retract and publicly apologise to him following a story published by the newspaper alleging that he collected N90 billion from a government agency to prosecute the last presidential election. The matter which the lawyer described as “highly libelous” is a trending allegation made by Timi Frank a close ally of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
In a letter sighted by Politicos and addressed to Vanguard’s editor, Eze Anaba, Osinbajo’s lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Femi Falana (SAN) said that he will proceed to court to claim damages on behalf of the vice president.
“We are solicitors to Professor Yemi Osinbanjo SAN, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (hereinafter referred to as “our client”) on whose behalf and instructions we write this letter.
“Our client’s attention has been drawn to your highly libelous story entitled “N90 bn FIRS election fund, Osinbanjo’s problem, not 2023 politics-Frank” recklessly published in the Vanguard newspaper edition of September 23, 2019.
Falana went on to explain the specific issues published by the newspaper that his client finds abhorrent: “In the story credited to one Comrade Timi Frank, your newspaper informed your large readership that our client’s travail ‘has nothing to do with 2023 but alleged mismanagement of about N90 Billion Naira (sic) released by the Federal Inland Revenue Inland Service (FIRS) to prosecute the last general elections in favour of the APC.
“The false contextual background and specific untrue and defamatory statement include the following:
‘The presidency discovered how Osinbajo allegedly mismanaged N90billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
‘When confronted by the presidency, he confirmed to General Buhari that he indeed allegedly took N90billion from FIRS but it was used for the 2019 presidential election campaign in strategic states of the South-west.
‘Gen Buhari asked for a breakdown of how the money was spent and he said he gave N11 billion to Lagos state APC leader but when the said national leader and one former APC chairman were invited for an explanation, it was confirmed that Osinbajo gave only N5billion and not N11billion to Lagos state.
‘The cabal is asking to know how come they beat PDP in the South-west with less than 60,000 votes if the money was actually spent in the strategic states of the South-west as allegedly claimed.’
“The activist insisted that if the information is true, Osinbajo must resign his position as Vice President, adding that such is akin to the characteristics of ‘yahoo boys.”
Falana told Vanguard “that the entire publication was a vicious, wicked and reckless ploy to impugn the reputation of our client and lower him in the estimation of right thinking members of the public. Without any scintilla of evidence you deliberately gave the dubious impression that our client colluded with the Federal Inland Revenue Service to divert public funds to the tune of N90 billion to prosecute the 2019 general elections in the South west region.
“In view of the foregoing we have our client’s firm instructions to request for the immediate retraction of the offensive and derogatory publication coupled with apology prominently published in your newspaper.
“Take notice that if we do not receive your formal retraction and apology within 24 hours of the receipt of this letter, we shall proceed with our client’s instructions to seek legal remedies including aggravated damages in the appropriate High Court,” the stated.