FACT CHECK: Did Osinbajo block Alpha Beta money laundering petition?

A report that claims Vice President Yemi Osinbajo blocked the money laundering petition against Alpha Beta Consulting using former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Executive Secretary, Olukoyede Olanipekun to carry out this ploy is false.

Documents and timeline research carried out by Chronicle NG showed that Vice President Osinbajo did not in any way tamper with the petition which the EFCC said it received and was investigating.

According to the EFCC, in August 2018, Mr. Dapo Apara, a former Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Alpha Beta Consulting had written a petition to the EFCC claiming among other things that the company had “become an avenue for official corruption of government officials, a conduit pipe for massive money-laundering scheme, tax evasion, among other vices”.

In the petition sent on his behalf by his solicitors, Adetunji Adegboyega, the Vice President’s name was never mentioned neither was there any link between him and a former law firm where he once worked, 

According to the article titled, “How Osinbajo used EFCC to block Tinubu’s coy’s N100bn tax, money laundering fraud petition” once Osinbajo became the Vice President in 2015, he nominated Olanipekun, who had worked in his law firm, as Chief of Staff to Ibrahim Magu.

Public records and information available to Chronicle NG from the EFCC website showed that the Vice President came into office in 2015 while Olanipekun was only appointed EFCC Secretary in November 2018 after a rigorous senate screening. This is three years after the Buhari administration was elected.

Also important of note is that the Alpha Beta petition had been filed long before Olanipekun was screened by the senate and subsequently appointed as EFCC Secretary. And as Secretary he does not partake or engage in the day to day operations of the anti-graft agency.

According to a statement by EFCC on 13 July 2019, a petition was received on Alpha Beta by the Commission in 2018, and that 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.”

“As a tradition, we do not deal on hearsay, 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.”

EFCC noted that the report which was first published by Punch Newspaper was deliberately conceived and published to malign certain persons.

“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”.

A response by SimmonsCooper Partners was also received by Chronicle NG. The law firm dismissed all the allegations imputed against the firm, her members and persons currently or previously associated with the firm.

“The Publication singled out, not only SimmonsCooper Partners, but also Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), a onetime senior partner and member of the firm, for public opprobrium,” the law firm said.

“The Publication contains untrue and highly defamatory statements towards the firm, some of which contain malicious falsehood. In doing so, defamatory statements are being communicated to millions of people throughout the world, diminishing the firm’s reputation and that of various individuals who have worked at, and continue to work, at SimmonsCooper Partners.

“SimmonsCooper Partners states that it is not involved, in any shape or form, neither does it have a link with, the alleged tax evasion, money laundering, nor corruption claims alleged against any of the corporations identified in the Publication. For the avoidance of doubt, SimmonsCooper Partners has never retained a physical or correspondent address at “B5 Falomo Shopping Complex, South West Ikoyi, Victoria Island”. This address is copiously portrayed in the published CAC Form 2.1, purportedly, as proof of the linkage between the firm and the subject matter of the allegations, whereas, a cursory inquiry by Punch could have shown that this address is neither the firm’s registered address nor its principal office. The firm categorically states that it has never been retained by Ocean Trust Limited to offer secretarial services as alleged by Punch Newspapers or at all. As is custom with filings as Company Secretary, there is no acceptance letter by the firm consenting to the purported appointment, or any other filing undertaken by the firm as Company Secretary at the registry of the Corporate Affairs Commission.

Punch Newspaper has since apologized for its publication saying it did not mean any malice against the Vice President.