A popular social and political commentator, Ms Olufunke Phillips may be in for troubles in the coming days.
Phillips was the digital manager of Lagos
State Governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and she has been alleged to be a
fugitive after being charged for cocaine possession.
It will be recalled that Phillips was recently
exposed by a Nigerian journalist, Ruona Meyer.
The dirty disclosure was said to have
attracted the attention of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress
(APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who reportedly ordered Sanwoolu to disband
his campaign team immediately.
It was gathered that the scandal got to the
leaders of the APC as a rude shock and that they have warned the incoming
governor that such an element must not be found around him after his swearing
in on May 29, 2019.
Ms Phillips (full name: Philip Esther
Olufunke) was allegedly charged by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency
(NDLEA) with illegal possession of 3.14 kilogrammes of cocaine in 2007.
It was alleged that she was arraigned before
Justice P.I Ajoku of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court in 2007 but
she, alongside 25 others absconded after being granted bail by the judge.
The case seemed to
have been forgotten until she publicly fell out with Ms Meyer, who holds a dual
Nigerian-German citizenship, brought it back to the fore.
Ms Meyer is accusing
Ms Phillips of intellectual property theft.
According to Ms Meyer,
the two former associates had teamed up to establish ‘The Beverage Space,’ a
website that focuses on alcohol consumption, years ago.
She said she brought
Ms. Phillips onboard because she needed a face for the brand since she wasn’t
based in Nigeria at the time, adding that she solely funded the project.
Ms Meyer, however,
said she pulled the plug on the venture after her background checks revealed
her partner as a fugitive.
But years later, Ms
Phillips began her own website which she renamed ‘The Beverage Room’ based on
the same ideas.
The website is
currently being run by Ms Phillips and commands a large following on social
media. The group currently boasts over 82,000 followers on Facebook alone.
In a Facebook post, Ms
Meyer explained that she was making a public disclaimer to fully dissociate
herself from any from business dealings she had with Ms Phillips in 2015 and
“I terminated our
business dealings in 2016 after I found out @FunkePhillips is facing cocaine
smuggling charges (with a 2009 court case); and on 4 July 2011, @ndlea_nigeria
listed her as skipping bail,” Ms Meyer’s Facebook post read.
Ms Meyer, an ex- BBC
Pidgin journalist, also challenged her erstwhile business partner to take down
the website or face her in court.
To back her claims, Ms
Meyer also shared receipts of her payments for logo design, website hosting.
She also expressed her disapproval of Ms Phillips’s continued claims to be the
owner of the business.
She explained, “I handled
the blog, edited written copy, tapped my contacts in Corporate Communications,
PR & media in general, to boost our networks. Funke Phillips had no money,
so I handled practically all costs…including domain hosting, calls to contacts,
sending proposals for sponsored events planning hangouts, generating content
ideas and even doing interviews from Germany with my Nigerian contacts.
“Soon, we were about
to get into signing partnerships, when my manager in Germany reminded me to do
a character check on Funke Phillips. I remembered I’d heard some absurd rumours
and went online to check.
“The report stated
that the information that Funke and other alleged drug barons were on the loose
was corroborated by then @ndlea_nigeria spokesperson Mitchell Ofoyeju (@mitchelljnr)
Ms Meyer also shared
Ms Phillip’s case file number and photo on Facebook on Friday.
Ms Meyer reportedly
explained the reason why she decided to publicly
dissociate herself from her one-time business partner.
“So I am not asking
for money, or care what Nigeria does to her or not. After all, she has skipped
bail for years and is not exactly hiding.
“I care because I am
held to a higher standard, personally, family-wise, and as a citizen of
Germany. I would be a pariah, unworthy of any semblance of public life if I
were ever associated with a drug-smuggling criminal, who also skipped bail. So
I have to disclaim it. Publicly too.”
Ms Phillips, who is
also a popular social and political commentator on Facebook, has however kept
mum on the issue. Efforts by this newspaper to get her own side of the story
have been unsuccessful as phone calls and text messages to her have been
READ THE FULL
POST BY MRS MEYER BELOW.
making this PUBLIC disclaimer to FULLY dissociate myself from business dealings
I had with Olufunke Phillips in 2015/2016, which I terminated in 2016, after
I found out @FunkePhillips is facing COCAINE smuggling charges (with a 2009
court case); and on 4 July 2011, @ndlea_nigeria listed her as skipping bail.
Link here, full screenshots in comments .
2015, I originated and conceptualised a blog and event portal on the business
of drinking, from a female perspective. I needed a face for it, as I was not
based in Nigeria. This is where Funke Phillips came in. I later called it The
set up all email, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook accounts, paid a designer to
make a logo (seen here for August 2015 – mail of her choosing logo),
everything. All Funke Phillips had to do was go to events/bars, send in little
handled the blog, edited written copy, tapped my contacts in Corporate
Communications, PR & media in general, to boost our networks. Funke
Phillips had no money, so I handled practically all costs…including domain
hosting, calls to contacts, sending proposals for sponsored events planning
hangouts, generating content ideas and even doing interviews from Germany with
my Nigerian contacts.
started to make progress in a very short time; I flew into Nigeria, arranged
meetings with my contacts, I will not mention them here, as they are private
people and I may need their private testimony for court.
each time I told them I’d be working underground, as I was based outside,
working on my day job anyway, and so Funke Phillips would be TBS’ face. She
attended some meetings, and
we were about to get into signing partnerships, when my manager in Germany
reminded me to do a character check on Funke Phillips. I remembered I’d heard
some absurd rumours, and
went online to check…
discovered Funke Phillips was arrested in a Lagos airport with 3.14kgs of
cocaine, and skipped bail, prompting then @ndlea_nigeria chairman Ahmadu to
list her among wanted “drug barons” in July 2011. Pics attached as comments
report states that the information that Funke Phillips and other drug barons
were on the loose was corroborated by then @ndlea_nigeria spokesperson Mitchell
Ofoyeju (@mitchelljnr) cc @dg_ndlea
next used my contacts in the courts and prisons to legally crosscheck these
facts, and presented the situation to @FunkePhillips, asking her to explain.
See her case file number photo also in comments.
private chats I will reserve for the court, Funke Phillips said she “went
through a lot to settle the case.” I replied that the only way the case could
be settled was if she was ACQUITTED, or SERVED TIME, but not so, according to
comments are screenshots that show that weeks after @ndlea_nigeria noted her as
a “drug baron” on the lam, Funke Phillips was online, on social media.
therefore, asked Funke Phillips for her documents of acquittal. She responded
that this was the work of her enemies. With such answers, I told her I could
NEVER work with her on any basis; we needed to cut all ties immediately.
I told Funke Phillips I would pay off those I had contracted to work for us,
handle all the bills, take down everything to do with TBS– I wanted NOTHING
more to do with a fugitive…even if Nigeria is mediocre enough to allow people
like Funke Phillips with a pending drug case walk the streets freely. This
absurdity was not going to be my norm.
told Funke Phillips that in fact, I did not care what happened in Nigeria. I
cared about my career and life in Europe, where even the whiff of an
association with criminality is just as bad as criminality.
over subsequent communications, particularly through mutual friends, I asked
her to make sure she never referred to me as someone she worked with, never
referred to or made similarities to TBS…to ensure she never used any similar
idea or contacts made, so that people would not subconsciously associate me
with her, as we had gone far. Funke Phillips agreed. I added she was a fraud
and must do right by the law.
I thereafter had major surgery, job moves, and JUST discovered that in fact,
shortly after this, Funke Phillips set up THE BEVERAGE ROOM (TBR), using many
ideas, & in some instances, even same contacts.
still, when I raised the issue 72 hours ago, contacts have since come to tell
me they thought I was still a silent partner at TBR, and that is why they joined
online groups, bought t-shirts, went to and had events, etc.
be clear: I publicly (via social media) tagged Funke Phillips, asking her to
pull down TBR, because it is a rip-off of TBS, and she knows why she has to:
Intellectual property theft, and the matter of GROSS criminality.
Funke Phillips and her “associate” have since said I am doing it because I am
“jealous” and I want to pull her down because I heard she is an aide to Lagos
state governor-elect Jide Sanwoolu. FOR THE RECORD: I ALSO JUST HEARD ABOUT
THIS LESS THAN 72 HOURS AGO.
Funke Phillips, to reiterate what I told you 3 years ago: I DO NOT CARE what
Nigeria does to you, or whether this country ignores your criminality and
rewards you – after all, you will not be the first fugitive to pop up in
government circles in Nigeria.
unlike you, I operate under a far different code of integrity and ethics –
filial-wise, professionally, and by virtue of being a German citizen.
on my dealings in Germany, I cannot be seen to have ever had any associations
with someone linked to drugs, even more with someone like you, Funke Phillips,
cited as skipping bail and being a fugitive.
the reason for this public disclaimer, Funke Phillips. This is not about money,
so, when I head to court to force a pull-down of TBR, I am more concerned about
DISSOCIATION and intellectual property theft.
Funke Phillips you simply cannot afford what I would term requisite
compensation for my intellectual property. Even if you could, I would never
prioritise collecting money from a fraudulent character like you.
because again, I operate under a different set of personal and locational
principles. On that note, Funke Phillips should you still refuse to do the
needful, and pull down TBR, I will see you in court. Please, try to show up
But a short bio on
thebeverageroom.co claimed Phillips launched
The Beverage Room, which Meyer said was founded based on her original ideas, in
2015 to “chronicle her love for Coffee, Wine and Spirits. She started an
Instagram, Facebook page and a blog sharing tips, tricks, findings and other
Olusesan Daini, who headed Babajide
Sanwo-Olu’s media team during the campaign said, Phillips was diligent when she
worked with him and that he was surprised to hear about Meyer’s allegations.
When asked if he recruited her for
the campaign, Daini said she was contracted to consult “for the purpose of
He absolved the campaign team of any
blame concerning Phillips. He insisted that the campaign team expected its
consultants to hire people with credible backgrounds to work with them.
An anonymous source in All
Progressives Congress’s media circle said Meyer’s allegations were meant to
paint Phillips black.