- Warns fake news peddlers
Jim Obazee, a special investigator appointed by President Bola Tinubu to probe the activities of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned those on a smear campaign against him over some imaginary financial impropriety, describing it as ‘outrageous falsehood’.
Obazee, a former chief executive officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), through his lawyer, Anayo Mbah, gave the warning in Lagos on Thursday while expressing concerns about how media outfits allow themselves to be used by those behind the campaign of calumny.
Following the announcement of Obazee’s appointment, there have been series of negative narratives published by some online media to tarnish his reputation.
Addressing journalists in Lagos, Mbah noted that the malicious campaign was meant to abuse the minds of the people so that Obazee would be viewed by the public as a corrupt and fraudulent person while in public service.
The offending articles according to Barrister Mbah, were published by The Eagle Online, Sahara Reporters, Peoples Gazette, Head Topics and others “with evil and malicious campaign to abuse the minds of the people”.
He said Jim Obazee’s legal team will not want to waste energy on the news peddled by these people as the initial publication of same is already subject matter of several suits against three frontline newspapers in the country, The Guardian, The Punch and the Daily Independent pending before the High Court of Edo State, Benin City Judicial Division, Benin City, Edo State, since 2021 for their libelous publication against the person of Obazee.
He noted that the accusations against Obazee were false and should be disregarded by the public.
Mbah added that the said civil suits are currently at trial stages. The details of the suits are, as follows: (a) Suit No. B/769/2021 – Jim Osayande Obazee v. Punch Nigeria Limited; (b) Suit No. B/770/2021 – Jim Osayande Obazee v. Independent Newspaper Limited; and(c) Suit No. B/885/2021 – Jim Osayande Obazee v. Guardian Newspaper Nigeria Limited.
He also stated that pieces of evidence shown to the court by Sola Oluseyi of Sola Oluseyi & Co, a firm of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, and also, the manager of the Japaul Building will exonerate Jim Obazee from the wrongful accusation on the rent of the building while the 64 invoices cited in the reports of the three newspapers were issued by the officials of the FRCN in October 2017, nine months after Jim Obazee had left office.
He explained that contrary to the false and malicious publications, there was never a criminal charge or conviction of Jim Obazee in any court in Nigeria.
“We challenge the peddlers of the false and malicious statements to produce the petition(s) and criminal charge(s) filed against Jim Obazee as well as the judgment(s) of Court convicting or sentencing him for any such criminal offences.
“We state categorically that Jim Obazee is only aware of an employment related civil suit filed at the National Industrial Court by one of the employees of Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) for wrongful termination and other claims against FRCN and wherein Jim Obazee was joined as a party as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
Mbah added that, “Judgment was given in the case and FRCN and Mr. Obazee have since appealed against the decision of the National Industrial Court. There was never a criminal charge or conviction of Mr. Obazee in any court in Nigeria. The news is totally malicious and false.
“The news peddlers also stated in their publication that Jim Obazee was linked to corruption, siphoned public funds into his pocket, took bribes to recommend federal takeover of banks and removal of Lamido Sanusi as CBN Governor and that EFCC is closely monitoring him over legion of petitions. No mention was made of any particular petition or petitioner or case file relating to all these spurious allegation of corruption.
“We are still waiting for further details from the news peddlers but there is not yet a single piece of evidence to support their publications. We had expected this campaign of calumny against his person because he has refused to be compromised and be enticed by several carrots being dangled at him to lure him away from the truth by the sponsors of these publications.
“Our client, Jim Obazee, is a consultant and a global expert in international financial reporting and had worked in the capacity of the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC), the 29th Chairman of the International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR) of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Chairman of the National Committee on Road Map to the Adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in Nigeria and currently appointed as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Special Investigator by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR.
“Gentlemen of the press, It should be noted that the issue of the authenticity, falsity or otherwise of the report of the Senate Committee on Public Account relating to FRC now published by the News Peddlers, being the gravamen of our client’s defamation case against the newspaper houses earlier mentioned, is subjudice being the subject matter of the suits earlier mentioned, and should not have formed the basis of any news report until the case in court is decided one way or the other. Therefore, it is condemnable and unacceptable that these media houses are publishing a report that its truth is being challenged in court.
“The publications have caused our client and his immediate family national and international backlash and embarrassment and have done incalculable damage to him and subjected our client to unspeakable hatred, opprobrium, ridicule, scandal and contempt in the eyes of reasonable members of the public and the entire world.
“Let it be known that these false publications about our Client constitutes offences under Section 373 of the Criminal Code Act and punishable under Section 375 of the Criminal Code Act”.