Posted by Reuters on
Nigeria's vice president has ordered his lawyers to sue a leading news magazine for libel over a story it published about an FBI raid on his house in the United States, his office said on Thursday.
ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's vice president has ordered his lawyers to sue a leading news magazine for libel over a story it published about an FBI raid on his house in the United States, his office said on Thursday.
Atiku Abubakar accused Newswatch Magazine of publishing "specious and spurious allegations of wrongdoing and malfeasance" against him in its September 12 edition, which carried extensive coverage of the FBI raid.
"The vice president ... has instructed his lawyers to, forthwith, institute proceedings against Newswatch Magazine, its publishers and promoters, for substantial damages for severely libelous and defamatory statements," his office said in a statement.
Abubakar's office has said the raid on his house, in the affluent Potomac district outside Washington D.C., was part of an investigation into U.S. Congressman William Jefferson relating to a possible telecoms deal in Nigeria.
Abubakar has said the raid did not imply he was being accused of corruption.
The raid took place just as Abubakar was beginning to position himself for a bid to succeed President Olusegun Obasanjo after his second and final term ends in 2007.
In August, a U.S. newspaper quoted a source familiar with FBI investigations as saying subpoenas showed federal agents were looking for records indicating whether Jefferson paid, offered to pay or authorised payments to Nigerian or Ghanaian government officials.
The Times-Picayune newspaper quoted sources familiar with the deal as saying Jefferson had tried to smooth the way for iGate Corp., a small Kentucky-based firm, to offer its high-speed broadband technology to Nigeria's fast-growing telecoms market.
U.S. officials confirmed the raid but declined further comment. The vice president's office said Abubakar had received a letter from Nigeria's ambassador to the United States, asking him to look into why the deal had stalled.
Obasanjo has not publicly commented on the FBI raid, but hours after the story was picked up by Nigerian newspapers, he accused his deputy of "proven cases of dubious loyalty" on national television. He did not give details.
Analysts have attributed the public flaying to a struggle for political supremacy before general elections less than two years away. Obasanjo has made it clear he will not support his deputy's presidential ambition.
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