Finally, Atiku rattles presidency with N2.5bn defamation suit

June 30, 2019
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Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has made good his threat to sue an aide to President Muhammadu Buhari for her alleged libelous publication on social media in May.

Atiku has, through his lawyer Mike Ozekhome, now slammed Lauretta Onochie, presidential aide on social media, with a N2.5bn suit at the FCT high court.

Onoche, in the tweet, allegedly suggested that Atiku was on the watch list of security operatives in the United Arab Emirates and had travelled to shop for terrorists in the Middle East.

“To say that the claimant is shopping for terrorists knowing same to be untrue and without any foundation 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,” Ozekhome wrote in his statement of claim accompanying the suit.

Denying the allegations contained in the said tweet, Atiku said the tweet was “politically orchestrated” “solely to cause maximum damage” to his “high reputation” while challenging “the purported victory” of  Onochie’s boss, President Buhari in the last presidential election at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.

He then demanded on May 14, an apology, retraction and payment of N500m compensation from Onochie “to assuage” the damage allegedly caused him by her social media post.

He also threatened to sue her should she fail to accede to the demand “within 48 hours”.

According to his statement, rather than show “remorse by retracting her earlier publication”, she further, on May 20, made “another derogatory publication and also published same globally online in the social and other print media” against his person.

He said sometimes in May this year, he had  embarked on a foreign trip to the UAE as he had done over the years, and while on the said trip, Onochie on  May 7, 2019, wrote, through her twitter handle:

“Atiku on UAE watchlist- Security sources Security operatives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are keeping a close tab on a former Nigerian Vice Pres Atiku Abubakar who has been in the Middle East nation for several weeks now What is he doing there? Me: Shopping for Terrorists?”

 The claimant said “the defamatory publication” was also published by several newspapers nationwide and on several social media news.

Atiku denied the allegations, describing it as “a figment of the imagination of the defendant”.

He, howver, insisted it portrayed him “as an evil man, mentor of terrorists, someone who has links with terrorists, and a person who is interested in destabilising the peace and unity of Nigeria”.

“The publication also portrayed the claimant as a security threat and terrorist to right thinking members of the public and the society at large,” the former Vice-President added.

Neither Onoche nor the presidency has responded.

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