A Nigerian journalist, Ruona Meyer, has called out Olufunke Phillips, the digital manager of Lagos State Governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for being a fugitive after being charged for cocaine possession. Ms Meyer made the disclosures on Friday morning via posts she made on her Facebook and Twitter pages Ms Phillips, who is also a popular social and political commentator on social media, has declined to comment on the disclosures. Ms Phillips (full name: Philip Esther Olufunke) was charged by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) with illegal possession of 3.14 kilogrammes of cocaine in 2007. 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.
Contacted Friday morning, Jonah Achema, the NDLEA spokesperson, requested for Ms Phillips’ details so he could check their records.
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 on Friday, 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 2016. 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.