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Nigeria’s vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (left), and Chief Justice, Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, at the Supreme Court Special Session for the 2019/2020 Legal Year on 23 September/Nigerian Presidency

Nigeria’s vice president offers to waive immunity over fraud allegation

Nigeria’s vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has sued Timi Frank, a former chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Katch Ononuju, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for libel and “odious falsehood.”

The duo had alleged that the vice president illegally collected the sum of N90 billion (about €225 million) from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to fund the country’s 2019 presidential election and even diverted some of the money into his personal accounts.

The controversy involving the vice president is being interpreted by observers as having to do with the jostling in the ruling APC for who will succeed President Muhammadu Buhari, who will finish his second and last term in office in 2023. Frank and Ononuju are seen largely as agents of principal actors in the ruling party to demarket Osinbajo.

Osinbajo in a series of tweets on his verified twitter account said he had “instructed the commencement of legal action” against the duo.

He said he wouldn’t mind waiving his constitutional immunity to “enable the most robust adjudication of these claims of libel and malicious falsehood.”

“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,” Osinbajo wrote.

“The defamatory and misleading assertions invented by this clique had mostly been making the social media rounds anonymously.”

The story appeared on many news media including Vanguard newspaper, Nigeria’s leading newspaper founded by Sam Amuka-Pemu, a journalism icon in the country.

Earlier, Babafemi Ojudu, special adviser to the president on political matters, wrote on his Facebook page that Sam had apologised for his company’s lapses in “editorial judgement.”

“Just got a call from Uncle Sam, our respected elder in the profession. I cannot even put here what he said to express his regret because both he and Osinbajo hold each other in high regards,” Ojudu wrote.

Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is Osinbajo’s lawyer. The legal juggernaut is also representing Omoyele Sowore, journalist and rights activist.

Raphael Adenaike

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