Published On: Mon, May 20th, 2019

Atiku demands N500m, apology from Buhari’s aide for ‘defamation’

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By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja

Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has demanded for an apology and N500m for defamation from the Special Assistant to the President on Social Media, Madam LaurettaOnochie.
The PDP presidential candidate in the last February’s election, in a letter dated May 14 and addressed toOnochie by Mike Ozekhome, his lawyer, threatened to commence a N2 billion suit against her if she did not meet his demands within 48 hours.
The presidential aide, it will be recalled, had on May 7, this year, tweeted that the former vice-president was on a United Arab Emirates (UAE) watch list.
The tweet, titled, “Atiku on UAE watchlist- Security sources,” had read,
“Security operatives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are keeping a close tab on a former Nigerian VicePresAtikuAbubakar who has been in the Middle East nation for several weeks now. What is he doing there?
“Me: Shopping for Terrorists?”
However, the PDP presidential candidate asked Onochie to publish a retraction in six national newspapers and one international daily as well as on social media.
The counsel to AlhajiAtiku, in the letter told Onoche that “Your odious publication is clearly also aimed at rubbishing our client’s image and reputation,”
The letter by Chief Ozekhome added, “It has caused him national and international backlash and embarrassment and done incalculable damage to him.
“Your publication has also caused our client, in the eyes of reasonable members of the public, unspeakable odium, obloquy, hatred, ridicule and psychological trauma.
“He has thereby been subjected to the shame and infamy of being viewed by members of the public as not only corrupt, but as a terrorist and sponsor of terrorism.
“Numerous telephone calls, emails, visits, letters and private social media chats by his family members, friends, political and business associates, and international statesmen and women in the last few days attest to the alarm and serious concerns generated by your false publication”, the letter said.
Continuing, the letter reads, “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 its 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 said.
The counsel to Atiku, in the letter, advised Onoche to, “TAKE NOTICE that if you fail, refuse and/or neglect to accede to our above modest demands within the next 48 hours from the date of this letter, we shall be compelled to activate the full weight of the legal machinery against you, without any further recourse to you.
“We shall, in such a suit, be claiming against you, the sum of N2 Billion Naira, representing exemplary, aggravated and punitive damages. This shall be in addition to our demands in the paragraphs above.
‘FURTHER TAKE NOTICE that in the event that there occurs any further malicious and libelous 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”, it said.

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