The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare has threatened to sue SaharaReporters over a publication exposing how he awarded Value-Added Service contracts to himself, the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, among others.
Dare made the threat in a letter signed by his counsel, Banjo Ayenakin, to the editor of the newspaper.
SaharaReporters had reported Dare awarded the multi-billion naira VAS contracts when he was the Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to himself and Tinubu.
Others who benefited from the dubious contracts include the late Isa Funtua, a long-time political associate of President Muhammadu Buhari, Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the NCC; Naomi Adenuga and Senator Ifeanyi Ararume.
EXCLUSIVE: How Buhariâs Minister Awarded Multi-billion Naira Contracts To Self, Ex-Governor Tinubu, Others As Nigerian Communications Commission Executive | Sahara Reporters https://t.co/IBZqTcWQCt pic.twitter.com/h8uMiNcUtk— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) September 20, 2021
Dare, a former spokesman for Tinubu, was appointed by Buhari as the South-West executive commissioner of the NCC in 2016.
He was however replaced with Adeleke Moronfolu Adewolu in 2019 as the President named him Minister of Sports and Youth Development.
Value-Added Service (VAS) is a term used in telecommunications to describe non-core features, which traditionally are non-voice functions such as video, data and so on.
“The current Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare single-handedly gave some corrupt Nigerians the NCC licenses when he was the Executive Commissioner,” a top source had told SaharaReporters.
“He gave himself a slot and also gave Naomi Adenuga for Globacom. He gave Bola Tinubu a slot and also Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC a slot. He also gave Senator Ifeanyi Ararume."
“Others are Isa Funtua (who died in July 2020), Abdurahman Ado Musa and his brother, Abdulsalami Abubakar.
“They were all awarded the Value-Added Service contracts for the NCC. This includes the use of USSD code; they generate at least N25 billion per month from that. The use of USSD code brings a lot of money,” the source added.
USSD means Unstructured Supplementary Service Data which allows people without smartphones or data or internet connection to use mobile banking through the use of codes, but at a charge.
But in his reaction, Dare demanded from SaharaReporters a retraction with an apology carried with the same prominence on its platform within 24 hours.
He added that the publication by the newspaper had caused him trauma and damaged his reputation before right-thinking persons across the world.
“We are solicitors to HON. SUNDAY DARE of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Federal Secretariat, Abuja who is herein referred to as ‘our client’ and on whose behalf this letter is written to you,” the letter read.
“Our client is the Honorable Minister in charge of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Abuja, Nigeria and as an occupant of this position, our client has demonstrated glaring and sterling qualities of honesty, probity, fidelity and forthrightness in his current as well as erstwhile position; to the admiration of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Nigerians at large.
"In your publication of September 20th, 2021; you alleged and stated that our client while serving as the Executive Commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) participated in shady and corrupt deals by awarding contract to himself and a number of other persons as contained in your false publication.
"You spuriously alleged that our client single-handedly awarded contracts to himself and several other persons while serving as Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) thereby insinuating that our client is corrupt and that he corruptly enriched himself and the other persons you mentioned.
"The story you published titled 'Exclusive: How Buhari’s Minister Awarded Multi Billion Naira Contracts to Self, Ex-Governor Tinubu, others as Nigerian Communications Commission Executive’ is riddled with factual inaccuracies, malevolent intent, and outright malice all aimed at damaging the credibility of our client.
"The publication has caused a lot of damage to our client’s hard-earned reputation which he has painstakingly and carefully built over a long period as different people have inundated him with sporadic calls over your false and unfounded allegations which is libelous and has irreparably dented our client’s image and reputation.
“Moreover, your publication has portrayed our client as a corrupt, unreliable and undisciplined public officer who corruptly enriched himself and flagrantly flouted government regulations and this has exposed our client to public odium and ignominy.
“You are hereby advised to pull down the publication within twenty-four hours of the receipt of this letter with a retraction duly published as a follow up.
“TAKE NOTICE that if you fail, refuse or neglect to so do, we have the instruction of our client to institute a civil action against your organization and its principal officers for defamation, and we shall be asking for aggravated damages against your establishment and its principal officers to the tune of Five Billion Naira only."