|Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, VP, Nigeria|
In order not to fall victim to the threat of a very robust litigation against them for publishing what is tantamount to falsehood, one of Nigeria's biggest newspaper brand - Vanguard has done the most honorable thing possible, by issuing with immediate effect a retraction of one of their stories that had painted the current Vice-president of Nigeria, his excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in very bad light. The retraction also came with unreserved, public apology too.
See the retraction and apology here-
*APOLOGY TO VP YEMI OSINBAJO*
*ON SEPTEMBER 25, 2019 7:25 PM* *IN NEWS BY VICTOR OGUNYINKA*
*On our website publication of Monday, September 23, 2019, we published a story titled “N90 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.*
© 2019 Vanguard Media Limited, NIGERIA.
The story as seen above had pointed fingers at the VP, the APC which is the VP's party & a Government institution - The FIRS, manned by the highly resourceful, Babatunde Fowler. One of the sponsors of the highly damaging story is alleged to be a former chieftain of the APC, Mr. Timi Frank who years back had been removed from the ruling party and had since then become a turncoat and a vociferous enemy of party and those now in charge of it.
Prior to the retraction, the solicitors to the VP, led by the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana had sent a strongly worded warning to the newspaper to do an immediate retraction and tender an unreserved public apology, or be ready to feel the full weight of the law which could result to them paying a very hefty fine.
The VP a legal luminary himself, who is also known to be pastor had confidently said he was ready to waive his immunity to allow for unfettered investigation into the matter, which had grossly insinuated that he had received slush money prior to the 2015 election. In a Twitter text that was authored in its entirety by him, he had said -
"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 had mostly been making the social media rounds anonymously.
“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 falsehoods.
“I will waive my constitutional immunity to enable the most robust adjudication of these claims of libel and malicious falsehood.
It was after the above that the robust letter from the chambers of Mr. Femi Falana, award winning legal luminary came out. Full text of which is below-
September 24, 2019
Mr. Eze Anaba,
Re: N90 bn FIRS election fund, Osinbajo's problem, not 2023 politics-Frank
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.
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."
It is clear 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.
FEMI FALANA, SAN
So with the first part now done, with the apology and retraction done by Vanguard, would the duo of Timi Frank & Katch Ononuju who are said to be the authors and sponsors of the blatant falsehood, now tow the honorable path too and admit they had lied with extreme vigor against the VP?