Hours after she was exposed as a cocaine trafficker evading trial, Olufunke Phillips, who worked as a digital manager for the Lagos State Governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has removed all traces of him from her social media profiles.
Ms Phillips, a popular social and political commentator on social media, had jumped bail after she was arraigned in 2007 for cocaine possession before a federal court in Lagos.
In the run-up to the 2019 governorship election in Lagos, Ms Phillips was an active campaigner for Mr Sanwo-Olu on social media and was also visible at several of the governor-elect’s programmes.
A regular caller at Mr Sanwo-Olu’s campaign headquarters in Ikoyi, Ms Phillips’ social media handles described her as “Digital Strategist/Social & Political Commentator|Social/Digital Manager, Babajide Sanwo-Olu Campaign.”
However, after the scandal broke on Friday, Ms Phillips edited her social media profile to read just “Digital Strategist|Social & Political Commentator|”
Contacted Friday afternoon, a top member of Mr Sanwo-Olu’s campaign said Ms Phillips was never an aide to the governor-elect but a mere volunteer.
The member, who requested not to be named because he had not been authorised to speak on the matter, said “Ms Phillips was just one of the many volunteers who made up Sanwo-Olu’s social media campaign team.
“If I hire someone during my campaign does that make her my aide? She only worked on the campaign and does not hold any official position in Mr Sanwo-Olu’s office.”
Asked if his team was aware of Ms Phillips’ past criminal records, he said, they (his team) were shocked to see the story online on Friday morning.
“We weren’t aware of it until Friday morning when people started sharing the report after it became a social media issue. We have called Funke and she told us that she was friends with Ruona until they fell out about three years ago.
“Funke explained that Ruona called her three days ago and threatened to destroy and release her secrets if she doesn’t do a particular thing. I will like to state categorically that Funke is not an aide of Mr Sanwo-Olu.”
Ms Meyer had, however, described Ms Phillips claims as untrue.
Repeated efforts to speak with Ms Phillips have continued to be unsuccessful as she had neither answered her phones nor responded to text messages.
Real names Philip Esther Olufunke, Ms Phillips was charged by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) with illegal possession of 3.14 kilogrammes of cocaine.
Ms Phillips was among 25 other alleged drug barons facing trial and who absconded after being granted bail by their trial judges.
Jonah Achema, the NDLEA spokesperson, told PREMIUM TIMES Friday morning that the agency would check their records on the issue before making a comment.
The agency is yet to issue any statement on the issue as at Friday evening.
Ms Phillips troubles started after she fell out with a former business associate and journalist, Ruona Meyer, with the latter accusing her of intellectual property theft.
According to Ms Meyer, a multiple award-winning journalist, they had teamed up years ago to establish ‘The Beverage Space,’ a website that would focus on alcohol consumption.
But the journalist pulled the plug on the venture after her background checks on her business partner revealed she was a fugitive accused of cocaine possession.
Thereafter, Ms Phillips went ahead to start her own website which she named ‘The Beverage Room,’ based largely on the same ideas as ‘The Beverage Space,’ according to Ms Meyer.