The Initiative to Save Democracy has responded to the claims by PDP stalwart, Timi Frank that 90 Billion Naira was used from the FIRS to prosecute the 2019 elections stating that this claim was uncalled for, untrue and misleading.
The Pro-Democracy Group in a statement by its Publicity Secretary Peter Oladele stated that the statements issued Timi Frank were blatant fake news and an abuse of the constitutional right to freedom of speech, further stating that all the “so-called activist wanted was to muddy clean waters with an absolute untruth from nowhere, and attempt to smear the names of good men.”
“It is disheartening to see the very medium to inform and enlighten citizens being used as a tool for spreading rumours and propaganda. The recent statements by Comrade Timi Frank, making its runs on several media platforms, hauling unfathomable accusations at the Vice President and the FIRS boss is one of such misuse of media.”
The group highlighted that reports by the FIRS already made clear that the agency had not received up to N100 billion per annum as Cost of Collection from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, a public institution, whose records are a matter of public records and thus to insinuate the agency supported the APC, through the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with N90 billion in the concluded election is outrageous and outlandish.
“The FIRS is neither a money dispensing or electoral funding organisation, and like several other organizations, they have processes and structures before a single dime can be spent. The FIRS Budget and expenditure approval processes pass through the Budget Office and the Ministry of Finance, after which they are presented to the National Assembly for Appropriation into Law. The National Assembly committees, consisting of all parties – whether PDP or APC – exercise oversight function on all agencies of the Federal Government to ensure agencies keep to the letters of the Appropriation Act.”
“Thus FIRS’ operations are subjected to scrutiny and close monitoring by the National Assembly, the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee and the Ministry of Finance. There is therefore no way such an amount as claimed by Timi Frank could have been expended without it being sighted by either of these institutions.”
ISD further stated that: “To believe the preposterous existence of the alleged sum is to accuse esteemed individuals of collusion and oversight but more detrimental, is to undermine the great work of the outstanding members in such offices. To insinuate that these governmental organizations are involved in electoral misconduct is an affront to public trust and an insult to our democracy as well as the electoral process.”
“What makes a source credible is the presence of verifiable proofs, however Mr Frank has provided none of such because the events portrayed in his statement are factless and borderline vindictive. They are baseless accusations which only seek to destroy the confidence placed in the government and its organizations and processes by her people.”
The democracy group urged the media houses to conduct due diligence by fact checking articles as well as conduct their own investigative journalism to avoid being pawns and tools by scrupulous, ill meaning and self serving individuals like Timi Frank.
It further urged Nigerians not to be too hasty in believing the worst and to weigh information they come across especially those from questionable media outlets before forming and spreading opinions.
“We must not loose the trust instilled in the administration and her members, as a house divided amongst itself cannot stand.” It added.