Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday denied playing any role in the incarceration of Chief Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Justice Joseph Olubunmi Oyewole on October 26, 2009, sentenced Bode George, the chairman and five other former board members of NPA, namely the Managing Director, Architect Aminu Dabo, Captain Olusegun Abidoye, Alhaji Abdullahi Aminu Tafida, Alhaji Zanna Maidaribe, and Engineer Sule Aliyu to two years each on a seven-count charge.
However, reprieve came the way of George in 2013 when the Supreme Court voided the two-year jail term, saying he was tried under a law that did not exist at the time he served as board member.
George, in an interview with Daily Independent, said Osinbajo who was the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice during Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s tenure as governor of Lagos State, connived with his then principal to draft the unknown law that was used against him.
According to George, “I don’t want to look at Osinbajo with what he has done as he was growing. I was a victim of what he did. He and his grandmaster (Tinubu) sat down and crafted a law that was specifically used for Bode George so that they could take me down.
“My path and Osinbajo’s path has never crossed except one day we sat together in the aircraft before he became vice president and I told him my mind concerning what he did to me.
“I told him he needs to go for restitution, go before the altar and ask for forgiveness. He couldn’t utter a word. No comment.”
However, in a statement by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, titled ‘Re: Despite what Osinbajo did to me, I won’t join those Plotting his Downfall – Bode George’, Osinbajo said he was baffled by Bode George’s statement, saying he had no knowledge about his trial as he had left office by the time Bode George was charged to court.
He argued that George was charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (PDP) under the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), which was the ruling party then.
“Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, is completely baffled by a statement credited to Chief Olabode George, a former deputy national chairman of the PDP, to the effect that he had forgiven the VP for his alleged role in his (Chief George) incarceration for alleged contract splitting during his tenure as chairman of the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA,” the statement noted.
According to the vice president, “I honestly hope that this is fake news and the product of some mischief as the entire story is a complete fabrication.” He continued: “However, it is now important to set the records straight as follows, in rebuttal of this amazing falsehood!
“Chief Olabode George’s trial commenced in August 2008, a year after Prof. Osinbajo left as Attorney-General of Lagos State (he served as Attorney General from 1999 to 2007), Chief George was convicted by the High Court in 2009.
“Chief Olabode George was charged to court by the EFCC, a Federal Government agency, not the Ministry of Justice, Lagos State. “Chief George’s party, the PDP, was in office at the centre in Abuja at the time.
“Chief Olabode George was charged under sections 104 and 203 of the Criminal Code. “The code has been in force since 1914! Indeed both provisions have been in the code since then.Every state in the South of Nigeria cites it as its own law.
“Prof. Osinbajo clearly could not, therefore, as Chief George alleged, have “connived with Tinubu to draft the unknown law that was used to convict him. “Neither Prof. Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, nor the House of Assembly, Lagos State, passed any new criminal law. In any event, their tenure ended a year before he was charged to court.
“The other law that came up at the Supreme Court, ‘The Public Procurement Act 2007’, is an Act of the National Assembly, not a state law.”
The vice president also described as fake news the statement by George that they both met in a flight before he became the country’s number two man where he asked Osinbajo to seek repentance from God for his role in his travails. He said he only met George in 2017 during the Lagos at 50 celebration and that aside exchanging pleasantries, no conversation took place.
“The vice president never met Chief Olabode George on any flight within or outside Nigeria. He also never had a discussion with him on his conviction or incarceration on any flight or at any time. “Indeed the only interaction the VP had with Chief George since his incarceration was in 2017 at the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of Lagos State, where the VP was guest of honour.
“The VP greeted him where he sat with other elders of Lagos State. There was no discussion whatsoever in that brief encounter. “It is hoped that these claims were only falsely credited to him, otherwise one would have to wonder how he came about such an outlandish fiction, complete with a meeting on a flight that definitely never happened!”
However, when contacted,George insisted he met with Osinbajo in a Dana flight en route Abuja to Lagos. He also claimed Osinbajo drafted the law used against him while in office as the Attorney-General of Lagos.
“Why will I lie against him? Was it because I hated him or what? He should refresh his memory. Was he not guilty of what I accused him of? “We met when he was nothing on a Dana flight from Abuja to Lagos. He was on 1C and I was on 1D. We sat beside each other.
“He was not vice president then though I can’t remember the exact year. That was when I told him to seek restitution from God for the evil done against me. “But if he can cross-check with Dana Air, if it is true or not as they have the records – like he said, we also met when he was vice president at the Lagos at 50 celebrations.
“Yes, he claimed he has left office as Attorney-General when the trial started but who wrote the stupid law for Bola Tinubu which they want to use to bring down Bode George? Anyway, I have left everything to God as He has vindicated me,” Bode George said.”