From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has vowed to commence legal action against a chieftain of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Paul Unongo, for allegedly making false claims to the effect that he (Atiku) was a financier of the Miyetti Allah association of cattle breeders.
In a letter by his counsel, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, yesterday, Atiku demanded a retraction of “the blatant and malicious falsehood” within seven days, and it must be published in all national dailies.
Atiku, who made particular reference to a publication on Page 3 of the Punch mewspaper of January 6, 2018 (Vol. 7413), wants Unongo to, within 30 days of receiving the letter, pay him (Atiku) N200 billion as damages.
Unongo was reported by the media to have claimed that he had interacted with Atiku and knew that the former Vice President was the most powerful person financing Miyetti Allah, a claim that Atiku has since denied.
Part of the letter reads: “You made this assertion even when you knew that in fact and in truth you never had any such discussion with our client. The above allegations, aside from being frivolous, callous, baseless and unwarranted, are utter falsehood and unjustified.
“Your mischief has gravely defamed our client and painted him in very bad light as a sponsor and instigator of violence across the country, a character you know he does not possess. Having given much of his life to the service of his country in various capacities, rising to the enviable position of Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1999-2007, our client has continued to function as an elder statesman and stakeholder in the nation’s polity, whose core interests lie in the general welfare and unity of the Nigerian populace devoid of ethnic/religious divides.
“As you very well know, those unwarranted allegations calling our client the financier of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, an organiation you made out as the perpetrators of the heinous and wanton destruction of lives and property in Benue State in the recent past, is nothing but complete falsehood. Nothing can, indeed, be farther from the truth.
“Take notice that our client takes strong exception to these allegations and considers same as an act of character assassination. Hence our instruction to:
“Demand of you and we so demand that you retract your mischievous allegations and tender an unconditional apology to our client, such apology should be published in all the national dailies, not later than seven (7) days from the receipt of this letter, inclusive of the date of receipt; and pay to our client by way of damages the sum of N200 billion not later than 30 days from the receipt of this letter, inclusive of the date of receipt.
“Take further notice that, should you fail, refuse and or neglect to abide by our simple demands, we would have no choice than to subject you to the rigours of litigation and this we shall do without any further reference to you.”