In a recent turn of events, there have been claims circulating on social media about former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele and ex-Deputy Governor Tunde Lemo returning significant sums to the Nigerian government.
Gatekeepers News reports that although these claims were published on News Band, an online website, it originated from a tweet by journalist Jackson Ude which has since gone viral, was liked by over 800 people and reposted by 733 others as of the last count.
The tweet asserted that Emefiele refunded N4 trillion, while Lemo returned $500 million.
“Jim Osayande Obazee, the Special Investigator to investigate the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and related entities, has recovered over N12 trillion looted mostly by members of the former President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration. The former CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, allegedly returned N4trillion, gave up ownership of six Banks linked to him, while a Deputy Governor, Tunde Lemo, refunded $500 million. The Committee has also rejected several millions of Dollars in bribe offers from former members of the Buhari’s Government,” Ude tweeted.
Gatekeepers News sought clarification from sources who should know if such had happened. According to the Director of Press at the Ministry of Finance, Philo Odosin, the Ministry has no record of such transaction and urged people to confirm the information’s origin from the source.
When contacted, Tunde Lemo vehemently denied the allegations, dismissing them as a “tissue of lies.” Mr. Lemo’s legal representatives, Zest Partners in Abuja, issued a letter to News Band, demanding a retraction within 24 hours and warning of potential legal consequences. The letter emphasized that Lemo never received $500 million from the Nigerian government or made any refund.
“It is our client’s express instruction that he did not at any time take any $500, 000, 000 from the Nigerian Government warranting a refund. That he did not refund $500, 000, 000 or any amount to the federal government of Nigeria either through the Special Investigator of the federal government or any agent of the government or any person by whatever name called.
“Our client finds the statement defamatory and an attack on his personality to malign him in the eyes of well-meaning Nigerians and his friends outside Nigeria,” the letter stated.
In the same vein, Mr. Emefiele’s family have also labelled the report as false and an attempt to continue to tarnish the reputation of the banker.
They highlighted the purported motive behind the misinformation, citing Emefiele’s involvement in the naira redesign policy, which was reportedly approved by former President Muhammadu Buhari to safeguard elections from vote buying and fraud.
“This is another lie. Same pattern of lies they have been writing about Godwin Emefiele to destroy his name and reputation. If you follow his persecution, you will clearly see that it is a case of pure witch-hunting and harassment of someone who served this country to the best of his ability. People know the truth. The world knows what is going on. His sin is the naira redesign policy which former President, Muhammadu Buhari has said he approved to protect our elections from vote buying and fraud.
“Nigeria just passed a N2.1 trillion supplementary budget that is being funded by borrowing. Will it need to borrow if it has such so-called refunded money?” said a family source.
Efforts to obtain a response from News Band and Jackson Ude were unsuccessful, raising questions about the credibility of the initial report.
The alleged return of billions by Emefiele and Lemo cannot be authenticated, verified or supported with any fact. The information is false. This further sheds light on the dangers of misinformation and the need for rigorous fact-checking in the era of social media-fueled news.