Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the national leader of the All progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, appear to be the targets of a vicious campaign ahead of the 2023 polls.
The aim is to stop power shift to the South in 2023 and where they are handicapped to “cast aspersions” on some political heavyweights.
It was gathered that an agenda for a prolonged smear campaign has been put in place beginning with the printing of posters in Dubai by a Kaduna-based politician against Tinubu and the resurrection of a petition against Alpha Beta Consulting Limited.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) said on Saturday that the petitioner, Dapo Apara, has not substantiated his allegation of a N100billion scam against Alpha Beta.
The Vice President had his first baptism with the probe of the activities of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) by the 8th House of Representatives in 2018.
According to findings, the “war” against the Vice President and Tinubu will soon assume a media assault dimension which will spread for two years.
It was also learnt that the forthcoming serial attacks were part of what is known as “Dubai Strategy”, which was developed by some stalwarts of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
A source familiar with the alleged plot said: “The overall objective of this grand plot by some politicians, including a mix of some APC governors, ex-governors and PDP elements, is to demystify the democratic credentials and integrity of Osinbajo and Tinubu.
“It is also about permutations for 2023 ahead of a planned alliance by some APC and PDP elements to frustrate the suspected presidential ambition of Osinbajo and Tinubu.
“They are out to paint Osinbajo and Tinubu as corrupt persons who should not be trusted by the political class, especially the power oligarchy in the country.
“Apart from creating a wedge between President Muhammadu Buhari and the VP and Asiwaju, some of these schemers do not want power shift to the South in 2023 because of their secret presidential ambition.
“They actually intend to provoke Buhari to move against Tinubu and Osinbajo under the guise of anti-corruption fight.”
The source also said the assault on the VP and Tinubu was in connection with plans to decimate APC before 2023.
“They see Osinbajo and Tinubu as stumbling blocks to their ambition. They have concluded plans to cause crisis in APC, destroy the party and use a new alliance to form a new party for their presidential aspiration.
“Why will they go to Dubai to print 2023 posters to paint Tinubu as anti-Buhari? They are desperate to finish these two leaders. It is a crooked plot.”
Petitioner can’t prove allegation against Alpha Beta, says EFCC
The EFCC declared on Saturday that a petitioner, Dapo Apara has not substantiated his allegation of a N100billion scam against Alpha Beta Consulting Limited.
It said although the investigation of the firm has been ongoing, it will not act on hearsays.
The anti-graft agency, however, said its doors are open if Apara has any further proof with regards to his petition
The EFCC, which made the clarifications in a statement by its Acting, Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Tony Orilade said it was false to claim that it has not acted on Apara’s petition in the last one year.
The statement said a reporter sent apologies for not reflecting EFCC’s part in the story.
The statement said: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has noted a story in THE PUNCH newspaper of Saturday, July 13, 2019, titled: Osinbajo’s firm linked to company fingered in alleged N100bn Alpha Beta scam.
“While not denying the fact that such petition was received on Alpha Beta by the Commission last year, preliminary investigation has shown that the petitioner did not substantiate the allegation contained in his petition.
“For the records, the Alpha Beta investigation is ongoing and we have nothing to hide over the matter.
“If the petitioner has any further proof with regards to the petition, our doors are wide open.”
The EFCC said it does not conduct its investigation on hear says.
It added: “As a tradition, we do not deal on hearsays, we act on facts and raw data.
“The Commission will not allow anybody to drag its name and reputation into the mud for ill-motive reasons.
“To underscore the desperation of the editorial team that anchored the report, Mr. Tobi Aworinde contacted the Commission’s acting Spokesperson at exactly 9:44 pm on Friday, July 12, 2019, on the subject matter.
“Mr. Aworinde called the Spokesperson to know the position of the Commission on the petition. The Spokesperson sent a response via a WhatsApp platform. Unfortunately, this response was not captured in the Punch report.
“When contacted why the response of the Spokesperson was not reflected in the report, Mr. Aworinde replied and said: “I forwarded the message as soon as I got it.
“It must have been the race to press. We were behind on our production deadline when I called for the reaction. My apologies sir.”
“There is no doubt that the ‘race to press’ and ‘we were behind our production deadline when I called for reaction’, as explained by Aworinde, is suggestive that there was an agenda and a motive.”
The anti-graft agency said it has attended to Apara’s petition contrary to insinuations.
It said: “It is erroneous for the newspaper to claim that the Commission did not do anything in respect to the petition for one year.
“It is also unfortunate and unprofessional for a paper like The Punch Newspapers to champion such misinformation and also rush to the press on a sensitive matter like this.
“As we continue our investigation, we urge the media to be circumspect, fair and balance in their reportage.”
Meanwhile, a group, Initiative to Save Democracy (ISD) has faulted a report linking Osinbajo with a firm implicated in the alleged N100b Alpha Beta scam.
ISD, in a statement on Saturday by its President, Sunday James Akinloye, also cautioned the press against being used by the People’s Democratic Party to propagate its Dubai strategy aimed at tarnishing the image and goodwill of persons in government, especially the President and the Vice President.
ISD said although a national newspaper failed to establish any clear cut relationship between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s former law firm and Ocean Trust Limited, it still went on to publish the report.
“To think that three reporters and perhaps two editors sat down to deviously concoct a fake news against the Vice President is rather frightening. Prof Osinbajo has nothing to do with this old and stale matter, yet the paper used his name as the headline, trying so hard and desperately to link him to it.
“Is the newspaper saying that if the VP has stakes in First Bank, MTN or any other company he is responsible for the actions and inactions of such organizations?
“This is the worst kind of reporting particularly from a newspaper that is fully implementing PDP’s Dubai strategy.
“Nigerians and all people of goodwill are hereby reminded of the evil intentions behind the whole charade against the VP.
“Let me state categorically that Simmon Coopers is not Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s firm as alleged by the newspaper. Even the skewed report stated that Simmons Coopers was listed as a company in which Prof Yemi Osinbajo (now Vice-President) ‘had’ a stake in his asset declaration form in 2015. The VP could not have continued with the firm and he resigned before he became VP. This is public knowledge.”
Mr. Akinloye then went on to explain that not only does VP Osinbajo have nothing to do with the law firm or its transactions; Simmon Coopers again has said it is not the Company Secretary. This is also in the public space.
“Our checks with Corporate Affairs Commission officials show that Simmon Coopers were never appointed Company Secretary instead there was a resolution to appoint Simmon Coopers but they were never appointed.
“The newspaper was handed fake documents which they published on their website. Anyone can go to CAC to verify the documents, they are completely fake claims.
“A paper submitted by a company to CAC of its plans or intentions is not the same thing as a CAC document. It is intriguing that the newspaper editors and reporters could not understand or comprehend these basic things.”
“Students of history, will be perplexed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in July 2018 had investigated this matter, and the Vice President was not associated with the case in anyway.”
He said the reporters who wrote the story, they have a track record of reporting falsehood especially against the VP, a part of the Dubai strategy.
“This is unacceptable to attempt to link a man to an issue he has no business with and this is the way that newspaper has been conducting itself for many years.
“Prof Osinbajo is a man of integrity, he is a honest man who has served Nigeria in every way possible, the least he deserves is this kind of fake reportage. Nigerians must be weary of reports like this.”
This story is a clear malicious attempt to impugn the stellar credentials of perhaps Nigeria’s most influential and hardworking Nigerian VP.”