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FACT CHECK: Did Osinbajo appoint two ministers as Reuters claimed?

FACT CHECK: Did Osinbajo appoint two ministers as Reuters claimed?
August 17
12:12 2017
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On Wednesday, Reuters reported that President Muhammadu Buhari and his aides had Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on a leash.

Osinbajo has been acting president since May 7 when Buhari left the country for the UK for medical treatment.

He was also acting president from January 19 to March 10 when the president took his first trip to the country.

There have been rumours that he is undermined and tele-guided by Buhari’s aides. There is also the speculation that he does not take independent decisions.

Reuters, an international media organisation, has echoed this speculation.

CLAIM ONE: OSINBAJO SOUGHT BUHARI’S APPROVAL TO APPOINT MINISTERS

In its report, the news agency quoted an unnamed presidency source as saying Osinbajo is “so scared to offend Buhari to the extent that he takes no major action without consent from him through phone”.

It also said the acting president flew to London last month to get Buhari’s approval to appoint two ministers.

“He flew to London for a few hours last month to get Buhari’s approval to appoint two ministers who had been already cleared by parliament, the official said,” wrote Reuters, the well-respected international news agency with headquarters in London, England.

This is, however, not true.

FACT: OSINBAJO DID NOT SEEK TO APPOINT MINISTERS

On March 29, a few weeks after he had returned from London, Buhari sent the names of two ministerial nominees to the senate for screening and confirmation. The nominees were Stephen Ocheni from Kogi state and Hassan Suleiman from Gombe state.

While Ocheni replaced James Ocholi, former minister of state for labour and employment, who died in an auto accident in 2015, in the cabinet, Suleiman replaced Amina Mohammed, former minister of environment, who took up an appointment at the UN.

The senate confirmed the appointment of the ministers on May 3 – four days before Buhari left for London.

However, they were not sworn in until July 26 while Buhari was in London. Osinbajo assigned portfolios to the ministers on Wednesday. This is the role the acting president played.

CLAIM TWO: ICPC’S NOMINEES WITHDRAWN BECAUSE OF BUHARI’S AIDES

Reuters also reported that Osinbajo withdrew two of his candidates from the board of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission (ICPC) because Buhari’s aides did not like them.

“Moreover, when Osinbajo tried appointed a new board for an anti-corruption commission he had to withdraw his candidates because Buhari’s aides did not like two names, the official said,” the agency claimed.

This is not a fact as well.

FACT: TWO ICPC NOMINEES DROPPED OVER INTEGRITY ISSUES

On August 6, presidency announced the withdrawal of the nomination of Maimuna Aliyu and Sa’ad Alanamu from the board of the ICPC over allegations of corruption.

The ICPC was said to be investigating Aliyu and Alanamu for alleged corruption in the region of N1 billion.

While Alanamu is reportedly being investigated on corruption charges allegedly committed when he headed some institutions in Kwara state, Aliyu is said to have a longstanding case of abuse of office, misappropriation and diversion of public funds against her.

In a series of tweets, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo’s spokesman, said the government had confirmed that the individuals were undergoing probe.

“We are stepping down two of the new ICPC board nominees who have ongoing investigation issues with the commission as this presents a conflict,” he wrote.

“This case presents a peculiarity as we have confirmed that the agency in which they are to serve is indeed investigating the two of them.

“A basic check showed no court convictions against them. But when weighty petitions come up this administration will always do the right thing.”

CONCLUSION

While the report may be right on several scores, the fact remains that Buhari appointed the ministers. And he sent a letter to the senate notifying it of his decision. The appointment was also confirmed by the upper legislative chamber while he was still in the country. But he did not swear them in or assign portfolios to them.

Also, the two ICPC board nominees were dropped because of the corruption allegations hanging on their necks. There is also no evidence that they are the candidates of the acting the president.

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