The Special Investigator recently appointed by President Bola Tinubu to probe the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and related entities, Jim Obazee, has warned those who are engaged in a smear campaign against him over some ‘imaginary financial’ impropriety to desist or face legal action.
Obazee, a former Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) describing the various malicious publications as “outrageous falsehood.
The Special Investigator, who gave the warning, through his lawyer, Anayo Mbah, today in Lagos, expressing concern on how some media houses allowed themselves to be used by those behind the said campaign of calumny.
He alleged that following his appointment by the President there has been series of negative narratives published by some online Media to tarnish his reputation.
Addressing reporters yesterday in Lagos Obazee’s lawyer, Anayo Mbah, stated that the malicious campaign was meant to abuse the people’s minds so that that they would view Obazee as corrupt and fraudulent while he was in public service.
The offending articles, according to Mbah, were published by The Eagle Online, Sahara Reporters, Peoples Gazette, HeadTopics and others with evil and malicious campaigns to abuse the minds of the people so that members of the public can view Obazee as corrupt and fraudulent while he was in public service.
He also said they Obazee’s legal team would not want to waste energy on the news peddled by these people as the initial publication of the same is already the 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, since 2021 for their libellous Publication against the person of Mr Obazee as what was then published and then repeated by these present publishers are false in its entirety.
Adding that the said civil suits are currently at Trial Stage and for your information, 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 at the Court by Sola Oluseyi of Sola Oluseyi & Co, a firm of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, and also the Manager of the Japaul Building would exonerate Obazee from the wrongful accusation on the rent of the building.
The lawyer also stated that at the same time, the 64 invoices cited in the reports of the three newspapers were issued by the officials of the FRC in October 2017, nine months after Obazee had left office.
He stated that contrary to the false and malicious publications, there was never a criminal charge or conviction of Obazee in any court in Nigeria.
Mbah said, “we challenge the peddlers of the false and malicious statements to produce the Petition(s) and Criminal Charge(s) filed against Mr Obazee as well as the judgment(s) of Court convicting or sentencing him for any such criminal offences.
“We state categorically that what Mr Obazee is aware of is a pure 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 Mr Obazee was joined as a party as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). 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 malicious and false.
“The news peddlers also stated in their publication that Mr 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 a legion of Petitions. No mention was made of any particular petition or petitioner or case file relating to all these spurious allegations 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, Mr Obazee, is a consultant and a global expert in international financial reporting and has 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 sub-judice 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 publish a statement 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, shame, 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 constitute offences under Section 373 of the Criminal Code Act and are punishable under Section 375 of the Criminal Code Act,” he stated.