Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has threatened four lawsuits against firms and individuals that allegedly libelled him.
Barely two years ago, he offered to waive the immunity from prosecution conferred on him by Section 308 of the Constitution to face trial.
It is, however, not clear whether he has made good his threats to waive his immunity.
The most recent addition to the Vice President’s lawsuit list is an online news platform, Sahara Reporters, which following the collapse of a 21-storey building in Ikoyi, Lagos State, on November 1, published an article linking the ill-fated property to him.
Sahara Reporters had alleged that Osinbajo owned the land upon which the collapsed building stood, adding that it was sold to him by the Chairman of Elizade Motors, Michael Ade-Ojo, and that the Vice President had once asked the regulatory authorities in Lagos State to unseal the said property.
On November 5, 2021, Osinbajo, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, debunked the claim.
He then referred the publication to his lawyers for legal action.
The PUNCH had on September 26, 2019, reported the Vice President as saying he was ready to waive his immunity to clear allegations of fraud.
This was after a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Timi Frank, said Osinbajo received about N90bn from funds released by the Federal Inland Revenue Service to the APC for the 2019 general elections.
In his response via a statement by Akande, the Vice President denied what he called “a spate of reckless and malicious falsehood peddled in the media by a group of malicious individuals.”
He added, “I have instructed the commencement of legal action against two individuals, one Timi Frank, and 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.”
Osinbajo also threatened to sue Google over a video published on the YouTube channel of Roots TV Nigeria on September 20, 2019.
In the video, Ononuju, described as a political analyst, claimed that the Vice President “used” federal agencies under his supervision to “stack funds” for the 2023 general elections.
In a letter to Google, the Vice President’s lawyers said the report was untrue and defamatory; demanding that Google remove the publication or be ready for legal action.
Barely 10 months after the Frank-Ononuju allegations, Osinbajo confronted an online platform, PointBlank News, run by Jackson Ude, a former director of strategy and communications under President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to Ude, the then acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, embezzled over N39bn and gave N4bn to Osinbajo for “soft landing.”
Through his lawyers, Taiwo Osipitan, Osinbajo petitioned the then Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, urging the IGP to investigate the allegations and if the purveyor was found guilty, the police should initiate criminal proceedings against Ude and his platform.
On August 8, 2020, Ude, in a series of tweets, claimed that in 2016, the VP connived with the Auditor-General, Anthony Ayine, and illegally cornered N10bn belonging to the National Health Insurance Scheme from the Treasury Single Account.
Consequently, the spokesperson for the Coalition for United Political Parties, Ikenga Ugochinyere, challenged the Vice President to resign and “clear his name,”
The Vice President’s spokesman debunked all the claims.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, said, “Section 308 of the Constitution protects the President, Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor from being sued or having court processes served on them in their personal capacity as agents of the government.
“The VP is perfectly permitted by the constitution to sue such persons. There is no constitutional bar. And I do not see it as a distraction from his primary duties.”
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