- We’re not probing vice president, says EFCC
Kingsley Nwezeh and James Emejo in Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has declared his readiness to waive his constitutional immunity to “enable the most robust adjudication” of several baseless allegations, insinuation and falsehoods against his person and office.
Osinbajo’s position is coming as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has clarified that it is not probing the vice president and the National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP).
Osinbajo made the declaration in a tweet he personally authored yesterday afternoon.
He 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.” he said
Meanwhile, the EFCC has clarified that it is not probing Osinbajo and N-SIP.
The commission said at no time did its spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, make any reference to N-SIP as a programme or accused those who superintend it of corruption.
It cautioned against reports which could project a false indictment and incite the vice president against Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said Magu appreciated how N-SIP had lifted many Nigerians out of poverty.
The statement debunked media reports attributed to Magu, which claimed that there was corruption in N-SIP.
The reports had claimed that Magu spoke through Uwujaren at the 15th Anti- Corruption Situation Room organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda in Kaduna on Tuesday.
The commission described the reports as false and a mischievous twist of the goodwill message presented by Uwujaren, on corruption and peace building in conflict communities.
According to the EFCC statement, “in the presentation, the EFCC spokesperson observed that the agency had received complaints in some zones regarding the social investment programmes, citing an example in Gombe where the commission investigated a case in the Anchor Borrower’s Scheme in which sand was bagged and passed off as fertilizer.
“He, therefore, warned that for the crises in these conflict zones not to degenerate, civil society organisations should play more active roles in monitoring the programmes to ensure that their benefits get to the people for which they are intended.
“At no time in the presentation did Mr Uwujaren mention the N-SIP as a programme nor did he accuse those who superintend it of corruption. The specific case mentioned, the Anchor Borrower’s scheme, is not part of the N-SIP being supervised by the office of the vice president,” EFCC added.
In a related development, the Communications Manager, National Social Investment Office (NSIO), Justice Tienabeso Bibiye has also clarified that the Office of the Vice President is not involved in financial transactions or the disbursement of funds under the N-SIPs of the present administration.
Rather, Bibiye said the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, is in charge of all matters regarding financing, budgeting, procurement and disbursement of funds allocated and released for the programme.
In a statement issued yesterday, Bibiye noted however, that the Steering Committee for the NSIO is chaired by the vice president, who supervises the implementation of the programme.
He further stressed that the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) beneficiaries are identified by members of the communities themselves, through a tripartite method, adding that the World Bank community-based targeting process was adopted at the beginning to assure of community ownership of the process.
“The vice president only goes round markets in the states where the trader-moni scheme is launched to engage with beneficiaries, but he is not involved in the disbursement of loans, whether in cash or through cash transfers,” the statement further explained.
The coalition of Northern Nigerian Youth has also thrown their weight behind the vice president, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to halt any attempt that can lead to maltreatment or embarrassment of any kind against his deputy.
Speaking to the journalists in Kano, the leader of the group, Mallam Yusuf Abdulmalik said any attempt to diminish the influence of Osinbajo will label Buhari, and by extension, the North as ungrateful people, creating a bad image for the region to the entire world.
He said Osinbajo, who has displayed maximum loyalty to the president in his presence and absence, is the face of the Church and strength of the Yorubas as well as the South in Buhari’s administration.
Abdulmalik pleaded the vice president should never be abandoned at any time.
He further noted that the smooth relationship between Buhari and Osinbajo in the last four years has given more life to the one Nigeria spirit and should never be allowed to be destroyed by some selfish individuals hiding under the bed to stain the hard- earned integrity of the President.
The leader of the group recalled how the vice-president touched every nook and cranny of the country during the re-election campaign, preaching the next level message of the President.
He described him as an accomplished Professor of Law and a great servant of God, urging the president to put a stop to any attempt to strip him of his constitutional powers in favour of anyone within or outside the government.