The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the last poll, Atiku Abubakar, has demanded the sum of N500m, apology and a retraction from the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, as damages for alleged defamatory statement against him
Atiku threatened that Onochie’s failure or neglect to accede to his demands within the next 48 hours, counting from May 14, would compel him to activate the full weight of the legal machinery against Onochie, without any further recourse.
The former vice president made the demand in a letter written by his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) on May 14 to Onochie, stating that refusal to his demand would lead to a suit against her and, in such a suit, he would be claiming the sum of N2billion, representing exemplary, aggravated and punitive damages. And it will be in addition to his earlier demands on the subject matter.
According to the letter, Atiku premised his demands on an alleged defamatory publication against him, allegedly made by Onochie on May 7, on her twitter handle page, with the caption:” Atiku On UAE Watch list – Security Sources.”
The letter written by Ozekhome on behalf of Atiku stated that the body of Onochie’s alleged defamatory publication read: ‘”’Security operatives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are keeping a close tab on a former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who has been in the Middle East nation for several weeks now. What is he doing there? Me: Shopping for terrorists?’
“Our client categorically denies each and every allegation contained in the said publication which is a figment of your imagination. Our client states most emphatically that the entire opprobrious and denigrating story above referred to is most misleading, baseless, false, malicious and totally bereft of any foundation howsoever. We hereby state most emphatically that the inference and grave conclusions made by you in the obviously politically-orchestrated story were invented by you and others of your ilk solely to cause maximum damage to the high reputation of our client, who is currently before the Election Petition Tribunal against your employer and boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, challenging the latter’s purported victory in the last presidential election.
“Contrary to your derogatory, disparaging, mendacious and unrestrained defamatory statement, as published in various print, electronic and online media platforms, of and concerning our client, our client is not and has never been on the watch list of the UAE, or any other country, for that matter. He has neither ever been denied entry into, interrogated, nor been declared wanted by the UAE authorities, or any of the country’s security agencies.
“It is quite revealing that even as we write this letter, our client is presently in the UAE and has not been accosted by any security agencies over the said frivolous and baseless allegations.
“To say our client is shopping for terrorists is not only dishonest and reckless, but is calculated and politically designed to instigate security agents against him not only in the UAE, but across the world,” the letter read in part.
Atiku demanded that the president’s aide should publish and tender a written retraction for, the said libelous publication in six national dailies circulating in Nigeria and one international daily, as well as on all the social media platforms, wherein the said publication was made.
He added that his demands from Onochie represented minimal damages to assuage his already battered image wholly caused by the said defamatory publication.
Besides, the letter disclosed that: “In the event that there occurs any further malicious and libellous publication against our client, we shall be compelled to pursue a criminal charge against you. We earnestly advise you to advise yourself appropriately. A stitch in times saves nine. To say more will be otiose.”