Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo ordered his lawyers to initiate legal actions against news website, Sahara Reporters over a story claiming that he is the owner of a collapsed 21-storey building in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The website had published a report that Osinbajo was the owner of the property and that the late developer, Femi Osibona was a ‘front’.
However, in a letter seen by POLITICS NIGERIA, sent to the website by the VP’s lawyers, Femi Atoyebi and Co. read in part;
“We are solicitors to His Excellency, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, (hereafter called “our Client”) on whose behalf and instructions we write this letter.”
“Our client’s attention has been drawn to your online news website publication of 04 November 2021 [- http://saharareporters.com/2021/11/04/exclusive-vice-president-osinbajo-linked-lagos-collapsed- building-current-death-toll-36],wherein you falsely and without foundation alleged that Chief Michael Ade Ojo, OON, KJW, sold the land on which the collapsed structure was built to our client after he became the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that the developer was “fronting” for our client.”
“Your publication suggested that our client has no regard for due process by allegedly using the influence of his office to secure building approval for the project in breach of building regulations. In part, you stated as follows:
’Different sources on Tuesday to/d SaharaReporters that the landed property was bought by Osinbajo from Chief Michael Ade-Ojo, founder of Elizade Motors (Elizade Nigeria Limited) shortly after he became the Vice President.
“Osinbajo is linked to the property, that house that collapsed on Monday in Lagos State. I was aware when he got the landed property from Elizade. A woman was selIing food at the place before, that was where all workers and labourers working around here do eat,” a facility manager to/d SaharaReporters.
“The Vice President has a lot of properties in the area, he is t/sing his brother to manage the properties. The developer, Femi Osibona is only fronting for him. Osinbajo even bought another property for his brother in the area, it’s at Mosley Street. The brother is the one managing it personally, he comes there almost every time.” for went further to assert that:
“I know the building is owned by a top government official, the man in question, Osibona was only fronting for that government official. We received an order from above to stop going to the site during monitoring. I heard the Vice President intervened when the project was sealed off early in the year but I can’t say maybe he is the owner. Don’t forget they are both from lkenne in Ogun State.”
“Interestingly, your said publication offered no credible source to the story yet, you know or ought to know that transactions of this nature are always in public records and a prudent and well – meaning journalist would have undertaken a simple task of applying to search the records to ascertain who the parties to the sale transaction of the land are or, cross – check his facts with our client before rushing to the press.”
“This, you intentionally failed to do. Your said publication has brought our client, who is a renowned Professor of Law, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, former Attorney -General of Lagos State, and serving Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria into opprobrium and disrepute in the eyes of his family, friends, professional colleagues in particular, and Nigerians in general. Your said publication has also portrayed him as a worthless and deceitful person who has no regard for due process by using his office for personal gains which is completely unfounded.”
“For the records and avoidance of doubt, our client hereby vehemently denies your said allegations as factually baseless, reckless and malicious as he did not buy the said land or any other land (for that matter) from Chief Ade Ojo, nor does he own/hold any interest in the said land. He has also publicly declared all his assets before resuming office as the Vice President as aforesaid. Our client also categorically states that he is not in any way connected to the sale or purchase of the land in question. It is also complete falsehood that the developer is fronting for him on the project or, that he did anything to influence the project’s planning approval in any way.”
“At a time of national tragedy when responsible citizens are in a somber mood as a result of the loss of dozens of lives in the unfortunate incident, it is deeply saddening that your organization chose to latch on to the situation to attempt to further malign our client’s character.”
“We consider your said publication as both unfounded, malicious and a figment of your contrived wicked imagination, calculated to drag our client’s name in the mud and destroy his hard-earned reputation which he has laboured for decades to build. We further view your publication as a calculated attempt to ridicule our client and soil his soaring image in the eyes of well-meaning and peace-loving Nigerians.”
“Accordingly, we have our client’s strict instructions to demand and we hereby DEMAND for the immediate retraction of your malicious, libellous and irresponsible publication within forty-eight (48) hours of the date of this letter in the same conspicuous medium and coverage by which you published it with a letter of apology to be published in the same medium; in addition to publication in two widely circulated National dailies, failing which our next instructions are to ensure that we set the machinery of the law against your organization and publishers with substantial and punitive damages. This we intend to do without further recourse or notice to you.”