N90b Election Fund: Nigerian VP drags two to court for defamation, vows to waive immunity to clear name
London, Sep 26, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has ordered his lawyers to commence immediate legal action against two Nigerians, one Timi Frank and Katch Ononuju for alleged defamation and falsehood against his person
VP Osinbajo stated this on his verified Twitter page on Wednesday.
The vice president was reacting to claims made by a former party official, Timi Frank, that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) provided campaign funds for VP Osinbajo during the 2019 elections.
“In the past few days, a spate of reckless and malicious falsehoods have been peddled in the media against me by a group of malicious individuals. The defamatory and misleading assertions invented by this clique have been making the social media rounds anonymously,” Osinbajo said.
“I have today instructed the commencement of legal action against two individuals, one Timi Frank and another Katch Ononuju, who have put their names to these odious falsehood
Osinbajo added that he was ready to waive his constitutional immunity to enable the “most robust adjudication” of several baseless allegations, insinuation and falsehoods against his person and office.
Meanwhile, a leading Nigerian newspaper, Vanguard Newspapers has apologised to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo over the story alleging that the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS gave him N90billion for the 2019 election.
In a statement on its website, the editor of the paper wrote:
“On our website publication of Monday, September 23, 2019, we published a story titled “N 90 Bn FIRS Election Fund: Osinbajo’s problem, not 2023 politics.”
“We have since discovered that the story lacks factual substance and we hereby retract it in its entirety.
“We tender our profound apology to Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on whom the story touches directly, the All Progressives Congress, A.P.C. and the FIRS for any inconvenience or embarrassment the publication has occasioned them.
” We hold Professor Osinbajo, S.A.N. in the highest esteem.”
Timi Frank, a former deputy national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osinbajo’s party, accused Osinbajo of mismanaging N90 billion allegedly provided by the FIRS for the 2019 election campaign.
Mr Frank has, since losing out in the APC power struggle, been very critical of the party and the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Mr Frank did not provide any evidence to support his latest claim.
The FIRS has since debunked Mr Frank’s allegation.
Wahab Gbadamosi, FIRS director of information, on Monday dismissed the claim, saying the agency’s annual allocation is not up to N90 billion.
“The attention of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, has been drawn to publication in some online and daily newspapers by a certain Comrade Timi Frank, the former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who claimed that the FIRS supported the`APC, through the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with a phantom N90 billion.”
“… IT IS NOT PLAUSIBLE nor DOES IT MAKE ANY SENSE that FIRS will commit its resources to a phantom campaign of N90 billion as suggested by Mr. Timi Frank and FIRS does not fund political associations,” Mr Gbadamosi said.
The spokesperson said the FIRS is a creation of statute and its activities are governed by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and financials regulations and thus, “IT IS NOT PLAUSIBLE, that its funds could be expended in such a cavalier manner as suggested by Mr. Timi Frank.”