Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday demanded an immediate retraction of an article linking him with an alkeged fraudulent withdrawal of N10 billion from the Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the federation.
The said defamatory claim was made by a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, while the story appeared in The Sun newspaper.
Osinbajo, through his counsel, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), said the article, published online and in print, made and/or repeated several defamatory statements about him.
The article was titled: “Ex-APC spokesman asks Buhari to probe Osinbajo, AuGF over alleged N10b withdrawal from TSA.”
Apart from retraction and public apology, Osinbajo also demanded a written undertaking from the newspaper, not to publish any similar or further libelous content against him.
Osinbajo threatened to sue the paper unless his demands were met within seven days, according to an August 12 letter he wrote in The Nation.
The letter, titled: Pre-action Notice – Defamation of His Excellency, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, in Your Publication of August 9, 2020, was signed by Adegboruwa.
The counsel identified the two libelous paragraphs as follows:
(i)”Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank, on Sunday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently constitute a panel of enquiry to investigate the illegal withdrawal of N10 billion from the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
(ii)”Frank, in a statement in Abuja, said such a panel must, of necessity, be given a clear mandate to unravel the involvement of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF), Anthony Ayine, in the brazen illegality.”
He said the news medium published the statements online “within an hour of the purported Timi Frank interview, and obviously without making any attempt to check or verify their authenticity of these unsubstantiated allegations”.
Adegboruwa added: “The above words, in their natural and ordinary meanings, meant and were understood to mean that:
“(i) The sum of N10 billion had been illegally withdrawn from TSA of the Nigerian Government.
“(ii) Our client was involved in this ‘brazen illegality’ and steps must be taken to unravel his involvement.”
The lawyer averred that contrary to the assertions, “there was never at any time, any illegal withdrawal of N10 billion, or any amount at all, from the TSA in which he (our client) was involved.
“He (Osinbajo) is not corrupt and he does not engage in illegal conduct,” the letter said.
The publication, Adegboruwa noted, falsely portrayed Osinbajo “as a very corrupt public officer who regularly, furtively and illegally steals billions of naira from the public treasury.
“By so doing, it has wrongly exposed our client to utter contempt and ridicule in the estimation of right-thinking members of the society. Your unfounded and malicious publication also violates sections 391 to 395 of the Penal Code Act as well as section 24 of the Cybercrimes Act,” he said.